I’ve often heard people say that they don’t like to watch or listen to the news. And, I get it. The news can be monopolized by disheartening stories. So, in a world where people feel like there’s a bunch of bad stuff happening, why not find a way to make some space for the good stuff!
Even as a small business, you can affect positive social change within your community or serviceable area. And, there are 3 compelling reasons why you would want to create social impact through your business. The first reason is obvious and altruistic: help others in need. The other 2 are self-serving and will benefit your business.
It’s like the old adage says, “give and you shall receive”.
Stick with me, and I’ll explain.
- Here we’ll walk through what “social impact” means and how to measure it.
- Plus, the 3 reasons you should absolutely create social impact through your small business.
- As well as some excellent examples of small businesses doing good in their communities that you can draw from.
What is social impact and how do you measure it?
Social impact is mostly understood as a positive outcome on people or a community as a result of an action, project or policy. Social impact can have a negative outcome, but for these purposes we’re talking about the positives.
The tricky part is measuring the impact.
It’s best to start with a specific area you wish to generate positive change. It may be a cause near and dear to your heart, or helping the environment, a certain group of people in need, mental health initiative, animal shelter, etc.
Then, decide on the outcome you wish to have. An outcome can be the change or benefits that result from your small business’s action.
Try to set a clear goal; this will give you something to work towards and make it easier to measure the impact.
Perhaps you want to provide X number of meals to those who would otherwise go without food? Maybe you want to plant X number of trees for every X windows cleaned?
**If you’re already on board, skip ahead to the examples. And if you still need convincing, here’s 3 excellent reasons to create social impact through your business.
3 excellent reasons for your small business to create social impact
1. The first reason why you should create social change through your small business is the most obvious and altruistic one. There are a lot of people and causes that could use support. The point is not to solve the world’s problems but rather pick one (or more) areas where your small business can have a positive social impact.
2. The second reason is self-serving and will benefit your small business: Creating social impact in your community or serviceable area will better your reputation and attract new customers.
87% of consumers are willing to purchase a product or service based on a company’s advocacy for a social issue they care about. And furthermore, 81% of consumers say that they would tell friends and family about a company’s social responsibility efforts. ~ Cone Communications Corporate Social Responsibility Study
As you can see, customers will make purchasing decisions (to spend or not to spend) based on a company’s social impact efforts. It may not be the sole reason a customer decides to spend their money with a business, but it can sway that choice. And, if a customer does align with the cause you’re supporting, chances are they will spread the word to family and friends. *That’s all potential business for your company and a great way to build your local reputation.
3. The 3rd reason to create social impact through your business, is to be able to grow your team with new hires.
Many people enjoy working towards something more than their paycheck. And although this has likely always been the case, it is the millennial generation who cares deeply about working for companies who make a positive contribution to society. (If you’re reading this and are not a millennial, consider this: millennials will make up ~40% of the workforce by 2025. Chances are good that you’ll work with some.)
Use your social impact project as an added benefit for working for your company, and you will be in a better position to hire people who are looking to contribute to society in a positive way.
Beyond attracting new employees to your business, working together as a team to bring about a positive contribution in the community will also have a positive impact on your business’s culture. Picture this, a shoreline cleanup in your community or donating 1% of your revenue to a local children’s hospital - these are things your team will feel good about and remember.
If you can make a positive contribution to society through your small business you will not only be supporting others in need, but will also attract new customers and new hires. You’re also more likely to retain customers over time and retain staff who are aligned with the cause.
So, if you’re ready to get started with a social impact project of your own, here are some prime examples.
Examples of small businesses creating social impact
- Matt Garcia owns and operates Matt Garcia Cleaning Systems in Colorado where they donate 1 meal to someone in need for every 1 window cleaned inside and out.
“We found out 1 in every 10 Coloradans don't know where their next meal will come from. And there are kids who count on a free lunch at school. All of these meals come from places like the Food Back of the Rockies. MG Cleaning Systems is proud to say we’ve provided over 2,000 meals to those in need. Being a community-based business we feel it’s important to give back to the community that we work in.” ~Matt Garcia
- Bee Maids is a family-run business in Texas that offer home cleaning services to women undergoing cancer treatment free of charge. They participate in a program called Cleaning For A Reason, which is a nonprofit organization that serves the United States and Canada. Since 2006, all partner maid services have volunteered their time to clean for over 17,000 women — valued at over $5,000,000.
- Harriet Erskine-Joseph is the owner of Onsite Drapery Cleaning based in New York. Through her business she’s helping to raise awareness for children with learning differences. They held their first learning differences conference on May 4th 2019 and will continue to raise awareness about learning differences for parents, students, and the greater community.
It's my goal to inform parents of all the various resources available to them and their children. I want to empower them, show them how to be compassionate and teach them to advocate for their children so they can live fulfilled lives. I want children with learning differences to thrive and live meaningful lives. ~ Harriet Erskine-Joseph
- As professional carpet cleaners, Mountain Cleaning Systems is a husband and wife duo in Colorado, and they know best that pets can leave your carpets a mess. That said, how can you be mad at that face?! They love dogs - this is their pup Yona - so they donate 1% of their revenue to the local Larimer Humane Society.
- Shine Bright San Diego is an exterior home services company with a socially oriented mission statement, and they follow through. They believe in giving back to the community by raising awareness for Angelman Syndrome Foundation that focuses on this specific neuro-genetic disorder. Their contributions are helping to find treatments and hopefully a cure in the near future.
- Based in Chicago, Urban Street Window Works is a window cleaning company who have launched a work skills development program for at-risk youth. It’s just another way that this cleaning company is helping Chicago shine!
There’s many ways for your small business to have a large impact on your local community or serviceable area, and doing this will not only support those in need, but will benefit your business. It’s truly a win-win!