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How is Your SMB Benefiting from Community Involvement?

Are you an SMB looking to increase brand awareness, create a positive public image and encourage relationships with potential customers? It might be time to evaluate how your SMB engages in your community.

Thinking strategically about your SMB’s involvement in the community can positively impact many critical areas of focus for your SMB. Creating a positive reputation among the local community can help boost employee morale, retention and engagement. These activities are also sure to provide new sources of recognition for your SMB and attract potential employees and customers.

Community investment isn’t just about monetary donations, but rather includes anything that positively impacts the community where you do business. Your SMB can actively invest in your community by engaging in a variety of activities such as buying from local suppliers, supporting local initiatives, sponsoring scholarships, providing volunteer hours, offering in-kind donations and pro-bono services. Ideally, these activities are done in ways that make the best use of your SMB’s product, time and expertise.

Creating and sustaining a positive reputation through community involvement is a valuable way to promote your product or service and generate brand awareness. Successful business development is synonymous with relationship development and a huge advantage SMBs have over large corporations is their ability to connect with their community. Meaningful philanthropic endeavors provide the opportunity to build long-lasting relationships with other organizations and network with individuals who could be potential customers.

Create a Sustainable Budget

To get started, create a sustainable budget for community investment including time, products, services and money. This should be an ongoing effort for your SMB rather than giving on an ad-hoc basis, so it’s better to be proactive about your giving strategy.

Select Your Partners

Once your budget is in place, make a plan for which organizations within your community you will partner. It’s important to realize that your community may not be defined geographically and could include issues, groups and regions that are most relevant to your employees and customers. Try to intentionally select organizations that align with your SMB’s mission and values.

Do Your Research

Before you partner with an organization, be sure to do your research. GuideStarCharity Navigator, Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance and even a basic internet search can all provide a tremendous amount of information about nonprofits. You may also want to consider contacting the organization and asking to speak to the executive director. Nonprofit leaders should be happy to talk with potential donors about their organization’s mission, strategies and impact.

Once you engage, be sure that your SMB is receiving the full array of benefits associated with your community involvement by actively pursuing recognition for your charitable actions. Communicate activities to both internal and external audiences. Research awards that your SMB and your SMB’s leadership may be eligible to receive. This type of recognition is a great topic for a marketing campaign and it is well suited for blogs, news releases, social media posts and your website. Professional awards typically come with marketing kits and may include plaques, pins or other items to help your SMB celebrate its success.

Additional publicity can come from the organizations you are supporting. Nonprofits often publicly recognize their donor’s support through social media, newsletters, annual reports, event announcements, event advertising and other promotional materials.

Your SMB’s philanthropic efforts are not only an important service to the community where you do business but can also have a notable positive impact on achieving your organization’s mission and goals. Your SMB will receive the greatest reward for your community investment if your plans are periodically revisited, thought about strategically and actively promoted.

This post is courtesy of MMC Account Manager Allison Stephanouk

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