6 Community Outreach Ideas for Small Businesses

More companies are recognizing the importance of corporate citizenship and have begun looking for ways to give back to their communities. Although small businesses may not have the same resources as large corporations, they can still make a tangible difference within their neighborhoods. If you’d like your company to begin contributing locally but are unsure where to start, try some of the following community outreach ideas.

Take time off to volunteer

Close your business once a year for a company-wide day of volunteer work. Pay your employees their usual wages, but instead of going about business as usual, take a company field trip to work on a community project. You could help clean up local parks, volunteer at Habitat for Humanity, or host a day of free, fun activities for children. Whatever you choose to do, make it an annual event, a day when you donate time rather than money to show your community how much you care.

Book Cover Banner: How to Start and Build An Effective CSR Program

Sponsor an event or message

Look for other organizations or individuals who want to make a difference and sponsor them. Maybe a local nonprofit would like to post an important message about suicide prevention or paint a commemorative mural downtown. You could also sponsor events, projects, or sports teams. Sponsorship can be a powerful marketing tool as well as a relatively simple way to support your community.

Offer a scholarship for local students

Help local youth reach their full potential by sponsoring a college scholarship. Although this idea may seem like a time-intensive project, running a successful scholarship campaign is easier than you may think. Online platforms streamline the entire process, from accepting and reviewing applications to selecting a recipient.

Giving scholarship to girl

All of the forms and documents involved in scholarship management can be created, published, submitted, organized, and reviewed online. Instead of spending countless hours on tedious administrative tasks, you can focus on the fun part: choosing a young scholar to support.

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Respond to community needs

Look for specific needs within your community that you can meet. For example, if you know residents have been complaining about outdated computers at the local library, consider donating new ones. Buy some backpacks and stock them with school supplies for less fortunate students. Pay for new playground equipment, establish a little free pantry, hold an adoption drive for the local humane society, or help remodel a community center.

Let customers choose your next donation

Turn your next donation into a contest that raises awareness not only for your brand but also for important causes. Encourage your customers to nominate deserving projects, charities, or individuals, complete with a testimonial about what makes their nominee so special. Post each submission online and let the online community vote. Every nominee benefits from a little free publicity, and the winner receives your donation.

Create new opportunities for residents

Use your position as an established, successful business to create exciting opportunities for people in your town. If you need a refreshed logo, a seasonal dish for your menu, a TV commercial, or new product ideas, hold a contest to find local talent. Host an educational workshop for entrepreneurs or offer an internship for students at a nearby college. Source as many ingredients, materials, and services as possible from small businesses in your town, empowering people in your community and giving them a stake in your company.

Community outreach is a great way for companies to boost their image, attract new customers, and make a difference, all at the same time. While simple cash donations can certainly help, community outreach ideas like the ones above are often more meaningful. Show the world what your small business has to offer.

Looking to give back with a community contest or scholarship? Submittable’s CSR software can help.

Rachel Mindell

Rachel Mindell is a Special Projects Editor at Submittable. She also writes and teaches poetry. Connect with her on LinkedIn.