No doubt local non-profit organizations and charities frequently ask you for sponsorships, donations and participation in events. Involvement in the community that supports your business is in the words of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), “an honorable way to show your company’s gratitude.”

A recent study by Ernst & Young and the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund indicated that 62 percent of small business owners say that giving back to their community has made their company more successful in the long run.

Here are some of the ways giving back to the community can help your small business:

  • Gain community good will: Giving back to the community is an excellent way to build good will. Your customers value your contribution and you gain respect among community leaders who may help promote your company to other local organizations.
  • Enhance employee morale: Involvement in a local charity can be a source of employee pride. Also many charities put on high profile fun events in which your employee may have an opportunity to participate. Working together on a company sponsored charitable function also helps to build bonds among employees.
  • Boost marketing: Depending on the organization, you may get press coverage about your involvement.  Also, donations of your products or services at events can be invaluable in raising your visibility among prospective customers.
  • Build your network: Often the board members of charitable and non-profit organizations are high profile business leaders within the community. Your support can help you connect with these individuals who in turn can introduce you to other companies and business leaders.
  • Enhance your brand: Large companies leverage charitable contributions, community involvement and support for national issues as a way to demonstrate their leadership and enhance their brand. You can do the same through sponsorship of a local organization or event. Promote your involvement on your website and through social media to inspire the ‘feel good factor’ about your products and service among customers and prospects.
  • Tax benefit: Company donations of time and money are tax deductible. The SBA says, “Sponsoring a local charity event, donating inventory or services, making a cash donation, or volunteering, are all considered forms of charitable giving. From a business prospective, these contributions are extremely beneficial when they qualify as tax deductions.”

As you consider what charities or non-profits to support, the NFIB recommends that you make sure the organization you choose manages its money effectively. To this end, look for organizations with strong administrative boards.  Also decide what you want to donate — money, time, expertise all can be valuable.  Finally, consider your intentions for giving. Don’t try to turn your participation into a new business endeavor.

Helping your community isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s good business.

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It’s an honor to be among the nominees for the 2012 Small Business Influencer Awards. Voting is underway and continues until August 5. You can vote daily until then.  We appreciate your vote.