100+ ways for small businesses to give back to their community

Has anyone ever mentioned how important you and your fellow small businesses are to your community?

Small businesses not only lend local flavor to the towns and cities they operate in, but they’re also the economic backbone of countless neighborhoods! Businesses can do more than offer products and services to local patrons, though.

When you consider how important your community is to the success of your business—doesn’t it make you want to give something back?

If so, here are 100 ways you can show the people of your community how much your business appreciates them!

1. Volunteer to lend a hand during local events, such as fundraisers.

2. Sponsor local teams that need funding for uniforms or equipment.

3. Offer free/discounted services to low-income residents or members of certain groups, such as veterans.

4. Create a merit-based scholarship for high school students who want to pursue a degree or vocational training.

5. Collect items for a food bank…or organize your own food drive!

6. Give presentations at schools about your industry.

7. Offer internship experiences or apprenticeships to help young job-seekers gain experience.

8. Sponsor a local art exhibition or gallery.

9. Help out an animal rescue center.

10. Host free workshops or classes to teach new skills to adult learners.

11. Team up with the Red Cross to host a blood drive.

12. Donate vouchers for free products or services during charity auctions.

13. Provide free consultations to fellow small businesses.

14. Foot the bill for a community garden.

15. Join an existing job training program and consider teaching a course.

16. Participate in an Adopt a Highway cleanup program.

17. Partner with a homeless shelter or youth services center.

18. Support local environmental or nature preservation causes.

19. Donate office items or products to Goodwill.

20. Run a promotional sale, with a percentage of profits donated to charity.

21. Fund a theater production (or at least a portion of one).

22. Support a literacy program at the public library.

23. Contribute to a science fair!

24. Organize a neighborhood safety program.

25. Speak with social workers about ways to provide support to at-risk citizens.

26. Launch a “pay it forward” program for your customers to contribute products or services for others.

27. Team up with a celebrity to facilitate visits to hospitals.

28. Consider a brand partnership with a local business that helps others.

29. Start a holiday toy drive!

30. Get involved with disaster relief efforts.

31. Host or sponsor a music concert.

32. Kick off a clothing drive to support families during the winter season.

33. Think of special promotions for groups that are near and dear to your values.

34. Set up recurring visits to nursing homes.

35. Feature occasional giveaways to community members, without requiring a purchase.

36. Help fundraise for local citizens who’ve been injured and may need financial assistance.

37. Sponsor a parade float or booth.

38. Find a wildlife rehabilitation center that needs support.

39. Donate to families of fallen firefighters or law enforcement agents.

40. Connect with a nonprofit in a field you feel strongly about.

41. Host a weekly podcast with local business owners.

42. Organize some remote volunteering, such as tutoring kids or reading to the elderly over Zoom.

43. Assemble care packages to ship to deployed troops from your area.

44. Close up shop on occasion to do a team volunteer project.

45. Reach out to your customers so you can learn and share their stories!

46. Create an online content strategy that focuses on issues that matter to your community.

47. Serve on a nonprofit board or other boards that have an effect on local citizens.

48. Engage in relevant online forums and offer helpful tips!

49. Throw a TED Talk-style conference that’s free and open to all.

50. Think about organizations that helped you in the past, and reach out to discuss ways to give back.

51. Contribute to a local community college.

52. Contact nonprofits that support minority or underserved groups to ask how you might assist.

53. Find a historical landmark or building to support.

54. Get involved with tree planting!

55. Collect donated bicycles and helmets to donate.

56. Host a vibrant cultural festival!

57. Look for opportunities to team up with the Special Olympics.

58. Throw a contest that’s open to all!

59. Reach out to a local movie theater to discuss having a film festival.

60. Poll your employees to learn what causes they care about. Offer paid time off for them to volunteer.

61. Support a refugee assistance organization in your area.

62. Organize a drive to gather personal hygiene products such as toothbrushes, shampoo, or other items that needy families may be short on.

63. Think of an activity related to your business that you could host a club or tournament around.

64. Look for a social cause you wish to advocate for.

65. Put on a car wash then donate the revenue to charity.

66. Consider doing a cultural cooking class or workshop.

67. Start a green initiative, such as a recycling program.

68. Offer free educational resources on your website’s blog and share them on social media.

69. Host a fun run to raise money and give employees paid time off to participate.

70. Adopt a playground that needs renovation or cleanup.

71. Start a mentorship program with employees helping local youth.

72. Reach out to the local community center to find opportunities you can get involved with activities.

73. Create an appreciation award for outstanding workers such as nurses or teachers.

74. Have a bake sale with employees bringing in items they make.

75. Partner with a business in the health and wellness space to offer free classes.

76. Put together a community game event, with multiple tabletop game options.

77. Showcase local artists at your place of business.

78. Commit to doing business with your fellow small businesses!

79. Participate in holiday-related events such as Halloween trick-or-treating for local kids.

80. Get together with a few nearby businesses to hold a fun event where participants get “passports” that are stamped at each establishment.

81. Host a hike to raise funds or just get some physical activity.

82. Offer part of your office space for local groups to use for meetings.

83. Poll community members via social media and ask them what they’d like from your business!

84. Source and sell locally-produced items.

85. Match your employees’ donations to particular local charities.

86. Assemble an office committee dedicated to promoting cultural activities.

87. Upgrade your IT assets and donate usable hardware and peripherals to a local nonprofit.

88. Have a themed photo contest open to the public!

89. Donate or buy a few products for a raffle.

90. Get out and help with a Habitat for Humanity project.

91. Tap into your local alumni groups to brainstorm ways to help undergraduate students.

92. Consider giving a grant to a nonprofit in your town (and make sure it complies with applicable laws or regulations).

93. Offer a free product or service to the first X number of respondents to a radio ad or social media post.

94. Contact the nearest Rotary Club about donating to causes you believe in.

95. Engage with the Chamber of Commerce to see what upcoming community benefit events your business can participate in.

96. Give out free rides to seniors or disabled persons who want to visit your business.

97. Take the pledge to adopt a philanthropic model similar to Salesforce’s 1-1-1 model which “donates 1% of revenue, 1% of product and 1% of employees’ time to the community.”

98. Contribute gifts in kind to local organizations instead of donating cash.

99. Draw inspiration and gather ideas from the actions of other companies that are giving back!

100. Draft up a formal corporate social responsibility or similar policy for your business, to stay focused and committed to your goals!

While this isn’t an all-inclusive listing, hopefully, it’s enough to get you started as you consider ways your small business can give back to the community that’s been supporting you. The benefits of doing so range from raising your visibility and reputation to enhancing employee satisfaction, building stronger community bonds, and setting off a potential economic boost for everyone involved.

Of course, perhaps the least tangible yet most rewarding aspect of giving back is that it’s the right thing to do!