Quite frankly, I was staggered and inspired by the passionate responses to this question and the examples of how so many small businesses are providing both financial support as well as physical assistance to charities.
- It's not just about the bottom line
It was uplifting to realise that many small business owners have actually based part of their business model on a commitment to giving back and it shows that it's not just the bottom-line that motivates people in small business (or for that matter, some of the corporate world either).
Some of these charities that small business owners support are reasonably well known - World Vision, Salvation Army, the Smith Family, Red Cross, UNICEF and others. But there were many examples of other charities supported by small business that are doing outstanding and courageous work, that perhaps fly "under the radar" in terms of their public profile.
I'd like to share with you just a few of the examples of small businesses that are contributing to some lesser known but worthy causes ....
There is also a misconception by employers I think, that people with challenges are hard work. I have not found this to be the case. There is full support from the agencies I go through and the people I have hired are driven and enthusiastic. It also makes good financial sense as there are financial incentives offered by most of these agencies which for a small business is gold. ..... What more could you want!
Obviously I could bang on about this topic for ever, because quite frankly it is my number one passion...and it all simply stems from my belief that life where possible should be fair......And given that I control the decision making in my business I think employing people with challenges that other employers might not look at, is about as fair as you can get.
I'd like to leave you with one last thought. About three weeks into his new job, I asked an employee how he was going and what he thought of his job. He had been unemployed for a considerable amount of time (in fact I doubt this 40 yr old gentle giant has ever had a long term paying job)
Anyway he stood very tall and said that he was proud of himself. He has changed his diet and is going for walks so he can be fitter so he can do his job better. I said that was great! I knew he lived with his elderly father so I asked him what his dad thought. He stood tall and proud again and replied "my dad has called all of his friends and told them that his son had a real job where he gets paid".
That for me was close to the best moment ever...I still get teary thinking about it...and that was the moment when I really realised what it's all about."
My sincere thanks to Kelly, Jennifer, Rachel and Sharon for sharing their stories ...... Your contribution inspires me to be more committed to the principle of giving back through my own small business
So, what are some ways that your small business might give back?
1. Agree to provide work experience or work placement to students
2. Volunteer your business expertise and offer to go on the board of your local not-for-profit
3. Sponsor or support your local community association, such as Lions Club or Rotary
4. Donate goods or services for school and community fundraisers
5. Become a mentor to other new business owners or young people in the community
6. Support local small businesses by using local suppliers
7. Offer a scholarship for disadvantaged youth, and subsidise their school books and fees
8. Give your staff some time-off to volunteer at a charity of their choice
9. Keep a collection tin for donations to your favourite local charity on your front counter
10. Have a look at our Charities page and see if something appeals to your heart
In closing, for those of you who have perhaps been hesitating about what you might do, then the words of Malcolm Bane might be worth considering ....
“If you wait until you can do everything for everybody, instead of doing something for somebody, you’ll end up doing nothing for nobody.”
I would invite you to share your story with us .......