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Small Business Tips

5 ways small businesses can give back without going bust

Manasa Reddigari

Corporate giving is a well-known and widely practiced phenomenon. But acts of generosity certainly aren't reserved for big businesses with deep pockets. There are many ways small businesses can give back to their communities even with a spare staff and a tight budget.

Click through to learn five of the best options for giving your community and your business a boost.

Put out a collection jar

Keeping a collection jar on-site is one of the most effective yet un-pushy ways small businesses can give back. If you have a storefront, put out the collection jar in a prominent and easily accessible location of the store that customers can donate to before or after they shop.

That might be the check-out counter or even on a small table near a popular aisle. Apply a label to the jar or keep a small sign nearby that explains where donations to the jar would go. For example, you might choose a local or national charity, hospital or cause.

Buy local

As the saying goes, "A rising tide lifts all boats." If the overall economy of your community improves, so too will the prosperity of all of the small businesses within it, yours included. The best way to boost the local economy is to become a loyal customer of nearby small businesses.

So, buy a bouquet from that nearby florist, order a cup of Joe from your local barista or dine at that local eatery you've been eyeing. Their business and yours will reap the dividends of your generosity.

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Sponsor a sports team

Does your city or town have a Little League baseball team or even a recreational football or soccer team? Consider supporting it by financially sponsoring a local sports team. You can either donate to the team and allow it to use the funds as it sees fit. Or, you can buy and donate specific items the team requests, be they big-ticket items such as sports equipment or uniforms or small expenditures such as after-game beverages or snacks.

The names of sponsoring businesses are often printed on player uniforms or on banners plastered on the interior or exterior of game venues. So, your investment in your community will also help create a buzz about your business.

Help plant trees

Want to save the planet and your business? Enroll as a small business partner in a tree planting program such as the one The National Forest Foundation offers. Your business will, in essence, supply the funds needed to have a tree planted in an existing forest.

The foundation you partner with will take care of the planting itself. Not only will you contribute to the betterment of the environment, but your business will also get a mention in the foundation's annual report if your donation exceeds a certain dollar amount (that amounts to $500 for the National Forest Foundation).

If you don't have the budget to participate in a large-scale tree planting program, look for a local tree planting initiative. Your own local park may well offer one at a low cost to you. Your business might even get a mention on a plaque near the tree or trees you helped plant.

Go pro bono

Many small businesses owners are, for good reason, disinclined to work for free. However, volunteering your services to help deserving members of the community is one of a few cases when working sans income can be a worthwhile use of your time. This is because going pro bono can not only boost the quality of life of locals, but it could also result in positive PR for your business.

There are many ways to avail yourself to locals. An accounting business, for example, might offer free assistance to community members in need of tax help before tax day. Or, a bakery might offer to cater a local event gratis. Members of your community will appreciate and remember any help you are willing to provide them in their time of need.

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