10 Ways Small Businesses Can Help Make Denver a Better Community
Regardless of how much you give, you are making a difference
Denver is changing and growing, and business owners have an opportunity to make their hometown even better during this growth spurt. If you are closely tied to the community, then it’s more essential than ever to give back in a way that’s authentic and meaningful.
Giving back also makes good business sense. When businesses engage in the community, they are able to better customize products and services – and build stronger relationships between other business owners and customers because we relate better, connect more and, most importantly, we help those who need it most.
But here’s the challenge business owners face ̶ they want to give back, but budgets can be tight and extra funds can be limited for writing donation checks.
Thankfully, there are ways to align your values and commitments to give back in ways that matter – but that don’t break the bank. Here are 10 ideas for getting started.
No. 1: Choose Your Audience
You can’t help everyone, so choose a cause or organization that champions your customer demographics and your personal calling: Poverty? Illness? Civic? Environment? Stay true to making an impact in the area that matters most to you and your small business.
No. 2: Create a Policy or Budget
First, determine how much or how little you can put toward this effort and be realistic. Start small, if that gets you going and then get started. Your policy might involve ideas for contributing time, not money – or a combination of both. Next, you must make a plan.
No. 3: Involve Employees
Employees crave a work environment that includes ways to engage in community-based causes. Perhaps they are already volunteering somewhere, and you can contribute products and/or support their time. Or, you can give them a day off each quarter to volunteer in the community. You can also volunteer as a company team, which benefits the community and develops employee comradery.
No. 4: Start Local
The best place to begin is in the neighborhood where your small business is located. You can get involved in hyper-local ways, such as helping the community school, contributing to a scholarship or even participating in a park clean-up day.
No. 5: Host a Charity Drive
During anytime of year, your business could become a location for a clothing, toy or food drive. This is a great way to involve your employees – and customers.
No. 6: Donate Used Sporting Equipment
Another great way to involve your employees and customers is to collect their used sporting equipment and donate it to your local school and/or community sports teams.
No. 7: Donate Your Product
Regardless of your service or product, there are always opportunities to donate something back into the community. We donate food to first responders, schools and organizations, and we get the satisfaction of feeding the community – literally.
No. 8: Piggyback and Grow
While it might not be feasible for your small business to launch an original community event, there are many existing ones for piggybacking. Over time, you can grow your involvement and eventually create your own event.
No. 9: Give a Little at a Time
You don’t have to make huge dollar donations to make a difference. Donating a small percentage of your profits, even just a little at a time, will add up and help the community. Sometimes, it’s as small and simple as putting a collection jar in your office or on your counter that can be donated to a charity that is important to you, your team and your customers.
No. 10: Establish a Foundation
As you find ways to give back to the community – you might want to establish a foundation, putting an umbrella over all your efforts. Your accountant or attorney can guide you on this step.
Giving back to the community is about making Denver better. Whether you are a native or a newcomer, you want to feel that sense of community and connection. And while it’s about business, it’s also personal. You must be authentic to your values and true to what you give back. Be kind, be inclusive and be generous.
Regardless of how much you give, you must believe that you are making a difference. Even just caring is priceless.
Martina Casados is a second-generation owner of Santiago’s, whose mother founded (and still operates) the restaurants with their family- and community-minded values. Santiago’s model of giving back is just one of the many ways this multi-generational Colorado business connects to communities. Since launching its charity campaign in 2003, Santiago’s Restaurants has donated more than five million dollars through community giving, scholarships, annual charity campaigns, fundraising golf tournaments and miscellaneous donations. For additional information and ideas for giving back, please visit http://eatatsantiagos.com, or call 303-452-5377.