10 ways to...benefit from supporting your community
Using your firm's resources to support community projects and other charitable initiatives can have a range of business benefits, from improved reputation to staff with better personal and professional skills.
Small Business Update
This update was published in Small Business Update 57 - September 2008
Small Business Update from Atom Content Marketing is a monthly magazine for people running their own business. Articles vary in length and cover 'hot topics', issues of importance, and current affairs.
1. Better staff morale. Allowing employees to spend time out of the workplace lending their skills to causes they value can increase their total job satisfaction and strengthen their attachment to your workplace. Studies have suggested that people tend to value these kinds of emotional rewards more highly than a big salary.
2. More skilled employees. Voluntary work can help employees develop a range of useful qualities. Aside from improving specific 'hard' skills, such as project management, they can acquire a variety of 'soft' skills, such as a stronger sense of responsibility and the capacity to get on with a wider range of people.
3. Sharper teamwork. Some businesses use community activities to develop team performance. A day spent working together on a conservation project, for example, can allow people to assume different roles, bring shy people to the fore and encourage everyone to work in a more co-ordinated way.
4. Enhanced reputation. Being a socially responsible business will increase your reputation with your stakeholders, from customers and employees to neighbours and local authorities. Even the local press will be more likely to report positively on your activities.
5. A stronger local network. Supporting local initiatives can generate goodwill and create good relations with people who can be very helpful to you (if you need support for a planning application, for example). Your employees might get to know potential customers, suppliers and colleagues, and gain an insider's perspective on local trends and tastes.
6. Reduced marketing costs. Generating good press and building relationships within the community which create word-of-mouth recommendation reduce your need to spend on promotional activities.
7. More efficient recruitment. A good proportion of potential recruits will be more attracted to businesses with a social agenda and volunteering opportunities. They may even approach you directly, saving you money on job adverts. Your increased connections with your local community might also produce potential recruits without the need to advertise.
8. Increased sales. According to the UK Small Business Consortium, 88 per cent of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that engages in 'socially responsible' activities. 'Cause-related marketing' - where businesses make a charitable donation for every product sold - is very popular with consumers; and your social (and environmental) credentials will also impress public-sector buyers.
9. More attractive to investors. Business' social and environmental credentials are increasingly important in investment decisions. Potential investors are becoming more aware of corporate social responsibility issues, and may ask you for information on how you are addressing them before committing to investment.
10. A vibrant local economy. Whether the support you lend is financial, practical or educational, a more vibrant local economy is one of the potential long-term effects of backing community projects and initiatives. It is recognised that small businesses have an important role to play in economic regeneration - and a vibrant local economy presents a range of commercial opportunities.
Disclaimer: This article from Atom Content Marketing is for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.
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