There’s a point every business owner looks up from his or her computer, glances at the clock and wonders where the day disappeared.

Whether you start your day at 6 a.m. and end it at midnight, the long “To list” never seems to get any shorter. Only longer.

Which may have you wondering why we are recommending the importance of lending a hand in your community.

“What,” you are thinking, “I barely have enough time to get what I need done, let alone add one more task to my list.”

We get it. We understand how busy you may be.

But take a moment and look around at the other business owners and leaders in your community. Look at who is just as busy as you are but find the time to volunteer for a project. Some of the busiest people I know are also the ones who volunteer. They do so not only because they understand it will eventually benefit their bottom line but they know it’s good to give back.

Volunteering in your community is a simple and effective way to promote your business while also doing some good. Whether you volunteer to coach a Little League team or sponsor the team; organize the local food drive or serve on a fundraising committee for the high school alumni association, you will be meeting valuable contacts. The more you are out and about in your community, the more likely other businesses will think of you when it comes to needing your business’ services. Volunteering is great public relations and advertising for your business.

According to a May 2013 study by Cone Communications and Echo Research, 82 percent of U.S. consumers consider corporate social responsibility when deciding which products or services to buy and where to shop. Think about your own consumer spending habits. If you were to buy a T-shirt – would you choose the company that gave a percent of its earnings to a nonprofit organization to help children or a company that didn’t.

Being involved in your community also lets you know what’s happening. And customers are more likely to support a business that supports community activities. Think about your own consumer spending habits. If you were to buy a T-shirt – would you choose the company that gave 10 percent of its earnings to a nonprofit organization to help children or a company that didn’t.

If you are not sure how to volunteer in your town, here’s our game plan on how to start.

  1. Pick an organization you are interested in. Whether you love to garden, read or play music, there’s an organization that could use your talents. Study after study has found you are more likely to stick to something you enjoy than something you dislike.
  2. Use your skills. If you are an accountant, volunteer to help a local nonprofit with its bookkeeping once a month. If you are great at decorating, volunteer to decorate for the church picnic.
  3. Get your staff involved. Find a project your staff can support. Maybe it is collecting food once a month to donate to the local food bank. Volunteering in the classroom or at a community event.
  4. Good for employee morale. More and more employees are looking to work at companies that care about making a difference. Not only does it create team work, volunteering is a great way to showcase an employee’s skills or let them learn a new one.
  5. Provide a discount. I recently had to purchase five extra-large pizzas for the boys’ varsity basketball team. The store manager knew my son was on the team. “Did you know we give a discount for teams at the high school,” she said. The savings and the small gesture makes me want to visit this business again and let other parents know what it did to support the team.

As consumers have more and more choices where to take their businesses, volunteering in your community is one way to let your company stand out.

And wouldn’t you rather have people say, “I want to support ABC Company because they support the community.”

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