Most people want to give back—the statistics show that social impact is important to both business owners and customers. However, it’s not always easy to put those desires into practice.
Plus, as solopreneurs, freelancers, and small business owners, we tend to think that we don’t have enough to be generous. That’s something that happens when you “make it”, right? But as nonprofits will be the first to tell you, you don’t need a lot to make a difference.
So, if you’re ready to start giving back with your business but don’t know where to start, here are the steps you can take to turn your intentions into action.
Step 1: What do you have to give?
Time and money are the two most obvious answers for what you have to give, but it’s important to dig deeper. Begin by outlining exactly how much time and money you have to offer—even if it’s only 15 minutes and $5. Write it down.
Next, think outside the box. What are the potentially less-obvious resources you have at your disposal? Examples may include things such as introductions to influencers, an office space where groups can hold meetings and events, or the ability to donate in-kind services.
It’s time for a good, old-fashioned brain dump. It doesn’t matter how small or inconsequential you think it is, write it down. Once you begin this process, you may be surprised at your answers—it’s very likely that you’ll realize you have more to offer than you think.
And here’s the even better news: Whatever you have to give is enough. It’s enough for someone else to make use of. You just have to find the right people in need.
Which leads us to the next step…
Step 2: What do you care about?
Here’s where the fun really begins! Outline the issues and causes that matter to you. What are you passionate about? Which injustices make you angry? What makes you smile?
If you initially draw a blank, look at your social media accounts. Chances are that you already follow some of these organizations, issues, and causes.
Again, write them all down. No, you can’t lend a helping hand to every one of them, but you may need to revisit or reprioritize this list later, so it’s good to have them all cataloged for safe keeping.
Next, it’s time to add some focus to your list.
Step 3: Who can you help?
Here’s where you may need to do some research. But with over 1 million nonprofits registered in the US alone, the right fit is out there waiting for you.
If you aren’t already tapped into the nonprofit scene, causes, or issues in your community, you might initially be drawn to national or global organizations. And if that’s where you choose to dig in, do it!
However, as one person or a small business, it might be a good idea to begin by thinking local. Sometimes people get overwhelmed by large issues or believe they can’t make much of a difference to a global mission. Working locally allows you to see your impact, and it usually gives you an opportunity to meet the people you’re helping.
Does a specific nonprofit come to mind? If not, that’s okay! You might try Googling nonprofits and issues in your area, asking friends and family for recommendations, or attending events to see a nonprofit in action.
Step 4: What’s your plan?
Your next step will likely be one of the actions outlined above, and following this path will help you follow through on those good intentions. Creating a plan gives your philanthropy ideas direction.
As you get started, make sure to take your time. This won’t happen overnight. It could easily take weeks or months to actually start building a relationship with a nonprofit. And that’s okay! It should be a good fit for both of you to ensure lasting success.
Keep in mind:
One of the reasons you need to create detailed lists is that the first plan may fail. You may find you aren’t a good fit for the organization, or vice versa. Or they may not even reply to your outreach efforts. It happens.
But the important thing is to keep trying! There are so many options out there, and when you find the right match for what you have to offer, it’ll feel like magic.
They’ll need help. You’ll have help to give. And you’ll be able to make the impact you desire for the causes you care about.
Finally, and most importantly, remember that the best outcome is a relationship. Nonprofits will always appreciate monetary donations and one-off volunteer hours, but like you, they want to build a lasting partnership. That kind of partnership will serve you, them, and those they benefit the most. And that’s where real change begins.