When I go to work, I love to know that I’m not just making a profit, but I’m also making life better for the people in my community.
Our company partners with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which conducts research to help veterans around the country tackle challenges like getting the right post-traumatic stress disorder treatment or recovering after surgery. Although we don’t talk about our partnership often, providing assistance to veterans gives more meaning to the work we do and gets the amazing researchers at the VA the support they need.
If you’re passionate about making a difference in your community, read on to see how you can leverage your business growth into community involvement.
Working with the VA has been an incredibly rewarding venture for our company. In the past few years, we’ve helped research studies for PTSD and sleep issues, both of which have helped the VA treat veterans with post-service difficulties. We’ve also helped the VA tackle addiction recovery for ex-smokers.
We enjoy partnering with the VA because we’re thankful for our veterans’ sacrifices. It doesn’t matter whether anyone hears about it. Whether we make donations or transcribe their files at a discount, the act of helping alone improves our morale and makes going to work more fulfilling.
Regardless of the cause close to your heart or the size of your company, the nonprofit organizations near you could always use your donations and business expertise. Virginia Distillery Company, a small outfit in Lovingston, Virginia, recently crafted and released the Nelson County First Responders Single Barrel in honor of the region’s police, fire, and EMS crews. Alongside the coffee-finished whiskey, the company capped the release with a $5,000 donation.
On the other side of the country, Chipotle restaurants across Arizona recently partnered with the 100 Club of Arizona in a fundraising campaign. By donating half of each order to the 100 Club upon request, franchise owners helped raise money for safety equipment, family assistance, and scholarships.
Outreach efforts like these are happening every day across the world, and there’s no time like the present to get involved.
How to Start Helping
Whether you run an independent shop, a franchise, or a large enterprise, local organizations would love to hear from you. You don’t have to show up with a giant check — often, your services and network alone can make a big difference.
Use these strategies to start improving your company and your community today:
1. Find out what they need. Do local charitable organizations need your services? Call around, and speak to their procurement departments to become an approved vendor and file the paperwork. Be patient — it took 18 months from our first contact with the VA until we finalized the partnership.
Think about the causes and outreach methods that matter to you. If you received a scholarship, consider funding one yourself. If a loved one suffers from a particular ailment, set up regular donations or a fundraiser for the cause. The more you personally connect to the issue, the more driven your relationship with your partner will be.
2. Make something unique to fit their niche. Depending on what your company does, create a product or service so you can donate the proceeds to your charity of choice.
Get creative. If you’re a speaker, create a program that benefits the charity. If you sell inventory, designate a line of products, and donate proceeds from their sales. You don’t have to give away 100 percent — even 10 percent makes a difference. Whatever you decide, stick to your commitment (or risk the bad press that follows).
3. Leverage your relationships. As a private business, you might know people your charity partner would like to know, too. For example, I often work with conference organizers, so I attend a lot of conferences and meet many people behind the scenes; these types of functions are an asset to your charitable efforts.
Consider a 2013 campaign launched by content manager and consultant Michael Bruny. The campaign, “$10K on 10/1,” was created to attract funding for clean water efforts in a region of India. It involved a series of thought leaders who gave Google Hangout presentations to raise money. Many of the thought leaders who volunteered were people Bruny met through conferences. Reach out to your connections to see who else shares your passion for community involvement.
Whether you have been involved with multiple charities for decades or are just starting out, your community could always use your help. Follow these strategies to add purpose to your work, and start making a difference.