As a small business, the support you can offer a charity looks very different to what large enterprises can offer.
But “every little helps”, especially when it comes to local charities. That is how we came to the following ways that we and other small businesses can support charities:
- Online exposure
- A dedicated product of which 100% of the profits would go to the charity
- Donation of a percentage of turnover
- The use of their premises for their charitable events
- Support with free products/services for the charity's events, promotions, etc.
It is important for us to showcase that support and help do not have to be monetary in nature. It would be a shame to perpetuate the belief held by many that only money is of value.
The power of online marketing is undeniable. You might “only” have several hundred followers as a small business, but if you add up the different social media channels, your newsletter subscribers, plus people who visit your website, you are potentially reaching thousands every week.
We decided to add a footnote to all our emails that not only mentions the charity we support, but also links to their website. This ensured that anyone who receives an email from us would be able to find out more about the charity we support.
We post about our charity on our social media channels, with a focus on sharing their updates and requests for support.
Needless to say, all of this is free. But it leads to increased exposure, which leads to more awareness, and hopefully more supporters.
Launching a unique product
As an example in 2022 we supported a local charity called Zarach. When we looked at the marketing calendar, we spotted that March is “National Bed Month”. We figured that more people would talk about beds, and bed poverty, and they could get involved if they used the right hashtags.
Bringing a biscuit product into the discussion, would make it more relevant to our own audience. And that is how we came up with the idea of a brand new product. A beautiful “Sweet Dreams Biscuit Box”. That we sold in our web shop and 100% of the profit went to Zarach.
It was also created to help raise more awareness about bed poverty, and the sad fact that many children in our city don’t have beds to sleep in. More about this idea here.
Creating a bespoke product, and donating the profit to the charity is an excellent way for a small business to support a charity. It gives them a relevant reason to shout about the partnership, and gives them a hook to contact the press, which in return leads to more exposure for the charity and the projects they are working on.
When we kicked our support for Zarach off in March 2022, we instantly purchased two bed bundles (worth £300). The thought that they would contribute to making a massive difference to the lives of two children was really powerful to us.
In March 2023, when their partnership came to an end, we donated a further £1,500 to Zarach, equivalent to ten bed bundles, and therefore ten children who are much better off. This is a percentage of the turnover that we agreed on, and it also happens to be one bed/£150 per calendar month.
Giving acces to your premises
Our bakery is local to where we live. And it is very unconventional in it's set up. The space is light bright and has a big table in one of the areas. Making it a great space for people to come together.
It is very rare that we bake in the evenings and as such we can facilitate hosting events for our partnering charity. It is small thing for us to do. But it makes a real difference to the charity.
For instance for our current charity, Women's Lives Leeds, it means they can reach people in our community. It means they can inspire their community with different experiences. It means they can host more events as they have access to more spaces.
How can you offer the spaces available to you to your chosen charity partner?
Supplying them with free products or services
When a small business gives away free products or services to a charity, it can help the charity raise money, reach a wider audience, and provide its services to more people. On top of that is it a great way to support a good cause and get involved in its community.
There are many ways for you to give away free products or services. For example, a restaurant could donate meals to a homeless shelter, a clothing store could donate clothes to a thrift store, or a tech company could donate computers to a school.
We choose to bake branded biscuits when our charity partner has events, or is doing social media activities, etc, etc. It is all about being creative to find ways that your product or service can support your charity's mission.
Many small business owners have limited resources and a multitude of financial pressures and insecurities. But if like us you want to pay it forward, then know there is a case to make for support that is not purely monetary in nature. As showcased above, there are many ways in which a small business can support a charity that is close to their heart. And those ways are welcomed by charities, as they feed directly into their efforts of true community building.