I believe that it’s very important, no matter your profession, to give back to your community on a year-round basis. It doesn’t have to be near to Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other holiday in order for you to make an impact.
However, the holiday season is still the ‘season of giving’. And while it’s important to give of yourself 12 months a year, there is something very special about giving back during the holiday season.
Giving Back This Holiday Season
Luckily, there are multitudes of opportunities to give over the course of the month of December. But there’s a bit of an inconvenient, inevitable truth to giving back: it very often costs money. And as an entrepreneur or a small business owner, there’s a chance that you don’t have a surplus of cash lying around — and any cash that you do have saved up goes into your business.
Giving back also requires giving of your time. While that may or may not be easier to come by than money is, it’s still difficult to find time that isn’t devoted to maintaining your business.
But never fear! I’m here to help you get creative with both your time and your money during the season of giving. You and your business will both be better for it, as clients want to do business with businesses and entrepreneurs with a sense of social responsibility, as well as a generous spirit.
How to Give Back as an Entrepreneur
1. Start a Facebook fundraiser or a GoFundMe page for a nonprofit
Facebook has developed a user-friendly platform for fundraising that allows all users to create a fundraising page for a nonprofit of choice. It even directs you through each step of the process! A GoFundMe page is just as easy to set up. While both encourage the organizer of the fundraiser to donate to the fundraiser, it is not required. And setting up a page, on either platform, takes minutes, depending on how much you wish to customize your fundraising page.
2. As a storefront business, serve as a drop-off location for Toys For Tots
It doesn’t cost anything to set up a box! And, in order to secure a box, search the Toys For Tots website for a local organizer. Depending on the organizer, you may have to spend time transporting donations to the organizer, but it will be a local trip. And toy donors will have to visit your business to donate, allowing them to remember your business the next time they are in need of your unique service.
3. Donate goods or a service directly from your business
Whether you’re a freelance social media planner, or you create handmade jewelry, or you own a neighborhood bake shop, you’ll be working and/or creating goods or services regardless of if they’re for profit. Offer a gift certificate to a holiday raffle for a service, bake an extra batch of cookies for a food drive, or create jewelry for a family that would not be able to purchase jewelry as a gift. Those are just a few creative examples!
4. Promote the projects of others
Sure, you’re short on both time and money. But there are others who don’t lead an entrepreneurial lifestyle and are left with 9-5 job schedules that allow them to devote time to projects after working hours, without interruption. While those types of projects take up more time than you can manage as an entrepreneur or freelancer who works atypical hours, word of mouth is necessary in order to make certain that as many people as possible know about such projects — and that’s where you come in.
Spread the word! Hang a flier in your store. Promote these projects via social media, both business and personal. And tell your friends and colleagues!
5. Volunteer where you network
Do you promote your business within your local chamber of commerce? Maybe you’re a member of an area networking group?
No matter the nature of your group, chances are that group organizes a holiday project centered on giving back to the community. Even if you can only contribute an hour of time, or a promotion by word of mouth or social media, every moment of your time is not a moment wasted when working toward a common goal. And, you’ll get to network with other volunteers while you’re working. If you’re all sitting around a table stuffing envelopes with information on a food drive, you’ll all get to talking — and most likely, about your respective businesses.
6. Give away your old supplies to a new entrepreneur
As an entrepreneur, you need office supplies and technology. But how many times have you purchased one extra pack of post-its that you realized later you just didn’t need? Or, you replaced your printer with a newer model, but left the old one in a box in a closet, completely forgetting about it? Those post-its are still new and useable. That printer, while not equipped with the most up-to-date technology, still operates. And office supplies, from post-its to printers are useful to new entrepreneurs who may or may not have spent all of their startup money already. Where will you find these new entrepreneurs? Your aforementioned networking group can help you with locating them, as can social media.
7. Collaborate within your niche
Entrepreneurs can collaborate with other entrepreneurs who offer either similar goods or services, or goods or services that work in tandem with that particular entrepreneur’s product. Why not team up when giving back to your community? Work on a promotion together, offer an exchange of goods or services, or plan a larger project that may not work for one person, but could definitely work with twice or three times the time and money. And if you’re part of a online collective for internet-based entrepreneurs, it’s very easy to find your co-collaborators within that community (i.e. a Facebook group).
Finding Opportunities to Give Back this Holiday Season
While the season of giving is also the season for a full schedule and empty pockets, one, or a combination of a few of these ideas won’t drain your pockets and reserves of time. You’ll be happier for it, you’ll have partook in the true reason for the holiday season, you’ll have helped fellow entrepreneurs as well as your surrounding community… and you’ll have promoted your business as a socially responsible business!
How do you give back to your community as an entrepreneur, small business owner or freelancer?