We tend to think of Corporate Social Responsibility as something that big business does. But have you considered why doing good might be good for your small business too?

Corporate Social Responsibility can be defined as

“A company‘s sense of responsibility towards the community and environment (both ecological and social) in which it operates” (www.businessdictionary.com)

I have highlighted the keywords here, but the one that resonates most with me is responsibility.

Do you feel a responsibility towards your local community, or national community?

Give balloonsHave you done any of the following in the past month?

  • Donated to charity?
  • Volunteered your time to an organisation?
  • Helped a stranger, or someone you didn’t know who needed help?

The Charities Aid Foundation publishes a World Giving Index to provide evidenced-based insight into the extent and type of giving people do around the world, measured on these 3 criteria.

The UK currently ranks 8th globally on this index. Overall giving has been falling in recent years, reflecting the tough global economic situation.

It is interesting to note that

  • More than half of UK adults give to charity.
  • But in recent years fewer people gave to charity, as well as making smaller donations.
  • Helping strangers is the most common place behaviour. Volunteering is the least.
  • Women donate more than men.
  • Men volunteer time and help a stranger more than women.
  • Young people are the least engaged with donating money to charity.

Why is doing good good for small business?

  • It extends the benefits of networking, both online and offline.
  • Those getting involved in charity and community initiatives meet influencers in their community, build relationships and expand their own influence.
  • It adds to your positive profile and word of mouth reputation.
  • This in turn reflects on your business and supports your brand.
  • Doing good is an effective marketing tool.
  • It is motivating and engaging for staff, particularly if they have influence on the choice of charity/community initiative supported by the business.
  • Giving away stock or cash can reduce margins, but companies find that what they give is repaid in publicity and customer loyalty.
  • Research shows that we like and trust companies that are socially conscious and responsible (there’s that word again!).

But remember, as with any initiative, you need to be authentic. Doing good just to get noticed will not reflect well on you if you are not committed and do not give of your authentic self.

Tips for doing good through your small business

  • Be strategic about your choice of charity
    • Does it meet your objectives?
    • Will your customers and community identify with it?
  • Pay attention to your accounts – keep your giving appropriate to your profits.
  • Take tax advice on what can be treated as a business expense and what can be deducted from profits.
  • Charitable giving – in all 3 forms – is a differentiator. Use that in your marketing material, both online and offline.
  • Take care to differentiate between sponsorship (where you have a return benefit, such as advertising) and donations where there is no agreed return on your donation, even if you get recognition and maybe even a small thank you gift.
  • Be authentic!

Have you thought how you can apply this in your own small business?

This is a 2-part blog. In the second part I example how charitable support is an integral part of , demonstrating how you can use your skills and products to support a good cause – The time is always right to do what is right.