10 Ways to Make Good: You Don't Have to be a 501c3 to Give Big and Leave a Mark

Leaders, such as Scott Harrison of Charity: Water, Blake Mycoskie of TOMS and Jessica Alba of The Honest Company, have proven that the future of business is designing conscious organizations, with the idea of “giving back” as part of the DNA of the company.  

Let’s be honest, not every company can be a one-for-one model, or a charity – nor does it need to be in order to do great things for others.

When you boil it down, we each have just three things we can offer: Our time, our talent and/or our treasure. But, what does that really mean for your business?

Here are 10 ideas to help your company maximize its reach and sustainably give back: 

Treasure 

Let’s start with the easiest give – money. Who doesn’t want a check? It tends to be the most obvious way to give back. If you have the opportunity to do so, it can make a big impact in the life of an individual or organization. Instead of just cutting a check to a charity, here three ways to maximize your give:

  1. Create a matching gift. A “matching gift” is a great way to double your impact. Basically, you offer to match dollar-for-dollar donations, up to a certain amount during a set period of time. It’s an exciting way to get other donors involved and extend your gift. It takes a little time to coordinate with the charitable partner, but is more often than not worth the effort.
  2. Become a sponsor. Do you know any budding startups by former employees, or is there an existing business in your community that could use a boost from launching a product or getting to the next level? A little bit of capital can go a long way. Sponsorship is a great (alternative) way to invest in your community.  
  3. Share your space. Having a brick-and-mortar office is an awesome asset to share. Since your company is already paying the rent, find ways to leverage the space. Maybe, there are extra desks that a small charity could use, or the conference space(s) could be made available for another organization’s meetings.

Time

Offering time can feel like a stretch, especially when it seems like we have so little of it in a day. However, giving time is an incredible way to build deeper connections with people. Most companies offer a volunteer day to stock shelves at the local food bank before the holidays, or do a park cleanup. These are great examples, but they aren’t the only way to give time. Here are three more ideas: 

  1. Become a mentor. Universities are often looking for mentors in various programs. From tutoring and guest speaking in a class, to judging a competition, it’s a great way to get involved and build a pipeline for internships and entry-level hires. Start by calling your local college, or even your alma mater, to see what’s available. 
  2. Promote others. Maybe, you have a newsletter or extra real estate on your website, where you can offer to feature a complimentary company or charity. Opening up your network to other opportunities is a great way to deepen relationships with your community and clients.
  3. Get greener in the office. Dedicate time as a company to create ways for you to go green(er) as an office. Set aside time in your next meeting, and see what ideas your team has. Then, schedule a Friday afternoon to make it happen. Maybe, everyone can make an effort to print fewer items, switch to a coffee pot instead of k-cups or petition the building to change to energy-saving light bulbs. It can be a big money saver, and do a lot of good for the planet. Be sure to invite your clients to do the same and share their tips and tricks with each other.

Talent

You have spent a lot of time, energy and money learning your business and honing your craft, as an expert in your field. That knowledge is extremely valuable. As mentioned above, we know your time is limited. Here are four ways you can put your talent to use: 

  1. Go pro-bono. Having a stellar year? Consider taking on a pro-bono client. This could be a charity, or a small business that’s just getting started. It’s a great way to build a relationship and offer meaningful services to another organization.
  2. Keep office hours. Hosting “office hours,” where the team offers complimentary 20-minute consultations once a month, is a great way to give back and earn some potential clients. Whether it’s the dead of summer or late fall, it’s always a good time to help people get their finances in order.
  3. Join the agenda. Say “yes” to speaking opportunities. It could be a conference panel, an interview or a webinar. In addition to showcasing the company, speaking opportunities offer team members the opportunity to showcase their individual expertise, practice public speaking, and offer helpful information to current and potential clients.
  4. Offer free tools. Does your team have great processes and internal tools? Consider creating a guide, planner or worksheet. Once a tool like this is developed, it can live on for years. All you need to do is put it on your website, or include it in a newsletter. Just one great freebie is a nice perk and can showcase the company’s smarts and ideas.

These are just a few ideas to maximize your time, talent and treasure. At the end of the day, no matter what everyone else is doing, it’s about finding ways that make sense for your company to give back.