Businesses benefit when the community perception of the business is positive. One way to build a positive reputation in the community is to participate in outreach programs. There are many ways a business can become involved in its surrounding community. A business may decide to focus efforts in one area or participate in several outreach programs.
Employee Volunteer Days
Community outreach requires commitment. Closing up shop for a day of volunteering or asking staff to donate weekend time is a financial commitment and a risk. That being said, getting out to do a community cleanup or help with a leukemia walk in the neighborhood not only helps the business build a positive community reputation but also gives employees an opportunity to feel good about service.
Most communities have many causes a business might want to support. Choose a cause that employees are excited about. Many business leaders who survey employees discover they are already affiliated with a charitable cause for personal reasons.
Other options include regularly working at a homeless food service or collecting toys for holiday donations. This gives employees a talking point when speaking with customers about how the company is making a difference.
Sponsoring a School or Church Program
Local schools and churches always need sponsors. A business can help fund a school's fundraising efforts to build an art program or a local church that is building a senior center. This type of community outreach often requires a financial donation. When supporting these types of programs, work with school or church leaders to ensure the business receives recognition for the donation.
Recognition happens in many ways. There may be a meeting where a check is given and the membership body—at a school PTA meeting or award assembly, for example—announces a new community partner. Many schools reciprocate support with school fence banners for businesses that sponsor programs. Churches reciprocate with an article or ad in the weekly circular they print and distribute to the congregation. It is possible your company might even get a shoutout during a service.
Offering Career Mentoring
Go to the local business development office, chamber of commerce or Small Business Administration chapter. Offer services to mentor students or unemployed individuals. These types of local organizations already have established mentoring programs in place. Build a relationship with both the business organization as well as those it serves.
Mentoring doesn't need to be directly related to your business. Instead, think about job skills such as resume building or interview skills when mentoring. These skills help a wide range of people who appreciate the assistance and are more than happy to share positive information about your company. A retail clothing business that mentoring on image consulting is a way to develop industry leadership in the area.