Social Entrepreneurship

Getting Involved in the Community

Written by Andrew Goldman for Gaebler Ventures

Getting involved in the community can be a win-win situation in business. You'll feel good about it, the community will benefit and it can have added benefits to your company and its image.

Whether you do it for personal reasons or business reasons, getting involved in your community can be a big positive for your company.

More and more businesses are following this approach but there are still plenty of companies that don't get the message.

Apart from being a Good Samaritan and lending a helping hand, being a positive member of your community can result in increased business, better public relations and "free" publicity. The reason "free" is in quotations is that there's still a cost involved in helping out in your community.

It's pretty obvious that helping out in the community is a positive action that helps those around you. What's less obvious is that it can have major advantages for your business as well. So, even if you're a bit of a Grinch, getting involved in your community can still be a part of your business plan.

First off, when your company gets involved in the community, people take notice. It may just be those involved in your community service activity or you may attract broader attention. In either case, you're getting yourself out there and spreading your company's name and associating a positive image with your brand name.

Of course, if you're doing community service you shouldn't spend the whole time selling your product, but you can feel comfortable talking to others about your company and what you do.

Depending upon what community service or charity you decide to associate with, the media may very well be involved. If this is the case, there's a good chance you can get mentioned in various media publications or have your picture taken.

For this reason, it may not be a bad idea to wear clothing with your company logo on board. While this may seem shallow, it's just marketing, and there's a lot worse ways to go about it then helping out your community.

I once worked for a Yale MBA who was a whiz at marketing. She successfully positioned the company to attend major community service events. It was always a win-win situation as the company got plenty of free press and came off looking like angels, while the community greatly appreciated the help and support of the local company. She always knew where the camera was and when there was an opportunity to plug the company, she pounced and it paid off.

In addition to the potential free advertising and media exposure, helping out your community is a great way to associate a positive image with your company. There are many consumers who prefer to purchase products from companies they deem 'socially aware'. While this may not be your target market, building a positive brand name is a key to success. Associating yourself with helping the community is a good start to brand name success.

If your company donates a portion of its profits or helps out the environment, feel proud about these facts. Mention these positives on your labels and on your website. Consumers will be impressed and it might be an order winner for a potential new customer.

If you decide to get involved in the community, you'll find the task rewarding on many levels. You'll feel great about helping out and your company can reap some serious benefits.

Try and get your employees involved and encourage them to participate. Your employees will have a better image of your company as well. Plus, the more helping hands in our communities, the better.

Andrew Goldman is an Isenberg School of Management MBA student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has extensive experience working with small businesses on a consulting basis.

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