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Company Culture, Leadership

Small Business Owners Give Back

Small businesses are the cornerstone of America, so it’s important to give back to your local communities by supporting your local small business. Kabbage asked small businesses owners how they support their communities.

As a small business owner, how do you give back to your local community?

“I give back by tutoring foster children on the weekends, and I’m a Youth Mentor for a few Oakland middle schoolers.” Neel Somani, Athena College Consultants

“Since baby boomers are our clients, we came up with a scholarship for students age 50+ who [are] returning to school to finish a graduate or undergraduate degree. We’ve awarded $1000 per year for the last three years, and in 2018, we’ll begin offering the scholarship twice per year, one each semester. Our scholarship focuses on community service, and, in particular, any students who have done community service in support of the elderly. It is so rewarding to help people go to school and pursue their dreams just like other organizations once helped us.” – Danielle Kunkle, Boomer Benefits

“We regularly donate to our local food bank and have sponsored charity events [and] are honored to work with charities that will help to improve the lives of those living in our community, and we encourage our customers to get involved and make a difference, too! One of the most meaningful charities we work with is Project Evergreen’s GreenCare & SnowCare for Troops. A program that allows us to put our skills to use for people in need. This program provides complimentary lawn and landscape services to families of currently deployed military personnel, and post 9/11 disabled veterans. We just got our first family in the area this year, and it’s such an honor to donate our time and services to people who have given so much for our country. One of our goals is to set a strong example within the community. It can be easy to get caught up in the day to day busy-ness of a job, especially at a small business where everyone is wearing multiple hats. We hope that our commitment inspires our employees and our customers to do more!” – Brad Wood, American Turf & Tree Care

“Being involved in mentorship programs and giving advice for the less experienced entrepreneurs.” – Mathieu Laroussi, Guarana Technologies

“I volunteer with the Homeless on a regular basis here in Birmingham. I have been blessed and it puts things in perspective to help out those who have nothing. Sometimes a word of encouragement goes a long way and no one has ever given them a chance. I like to offer a hand up versus a handout and try to help them find jobs if they want one. As a business owner, it is important for me to lift up others using the connections and resources I have been fortunate to obtain.” – Matt Wilson, Perpetual Lifestyle Planning

“Our business is based out of Calabasas, California, and we like to seek out as many avenues as possible to give back to the surrounding LA and Ventura County communities. I serve on the Board of Regents at California Lutheran University, and I am actively involved in the Center for Entrepreneurship at Pepperdine University. I also sponsor the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme and I’m on the parent association board with the local public schools in the area.” — Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation

“I was able to become the first person in my family to graduate from college, in large part due to the generosity of private scholarship awards throughout my education. I grew up in a low-income household and greatly depended on scholarships to get me through. Now that I own my own small business, I finally have the ability to offer my very own college scholarship! It’s called the Beauty + Wellness Scholarship, and it’s a $500 award for female college students striving to live healthy lives. The scholarship is my way of paying it forward and giving back to students who are trying to accomplish their educational goals.” – Diane Elizabeth, Skin Care Ox

“Aside from offering a solid product, about half [of our] energy goes into [our] social movement that is based on #TagAHero. TagAHero has proven to be a successful charitable endeavor, because individuals are able to tag their hero for the chance to win free bedding from Herobed. Ninety-nine percent of these situations are meant for individuals in truly dire scenarios where the donation can really assist them. Herobed also works with many non-profits, like our upcoming partnership with The Life of Single Mom Ministries, where we are donating beds throughout the year to worthy families and individuals who are displaced by floods, fire, and unfortunate circumstances.” – Mark and Jeff Quinn, Herobed

“Study.com’s Working Scholar tuition-free college program. The program remove the two largest barriers to obtaining a college degree, expense and inconvenience. [We] strongly believe that a college degree is the key to economic success and career advancement and that the problem should be addressed on a community level. Anyone who lives or works in the city is eligible to participate in Mountain View Working Scholars. The program was launched in October and has already had over 900 students apply and 300 are already taking college courses.” – Adrian Ridner, Study.com 

“Cohen Architectural Woodworking benefits the area and society in general by hiring a number of ex-offenders, many who were formerly incarcerated become excellent employees and even work their way into management. Cohen provides jobs, works with local schools, offers personal and career development for [our] employees. [We] deposit 10 percent of annual profits into a donor-advised fund and distribute to organizations and individuals in need. The Cohen Cares Program [is a] tax-free donations from pay to a special fund for those in need. An employee committee decides where the contributions go. Every 2 weeks, employees hold values focused videoconferences with underprivileged kids from the rough St Louis neighborhoods, as part of an elementary school program, Little Arrows. [We also do] disaster recovery projects, like Joplin Schools for example.” – Phillip Cohen, Cohen Architectural Woodworking

“As a local business owner, it’s important to realize that your community is the backbone of your business. They’re the ones that support and help your business flourish. It’s cyclical. Pick a local cause you’re passionate about and return the support. In our community, homelessness is a serious issue so we decided to take a percentage of our first-year sales and give them to the Long Beach Rescue Mission.” – Steve O’Dell, Tenzo Tea

“We’ve sponsored regional events such as the Fresno FilmWorks Film Festival. We’ve sponsored school booster clubs and local cycling clubs. We’ve sponsored 5K races and fun runs. We choose to give back to the local communities in a way that enriches many people, not just one, in the local community. By sponsoring an event, all attendees benefit from our donation. Frankly, it also feels good to give back, knowing that our donations/sponsorships support local schools, parks and more. As a bonus, our sponsorships have also generated business for our law firm. People like to work with businesses that are active in the local community.” – Jennifer Poole, Nadrich and Cohen LLP

“It is our mission to raise awareness about minority mental health issues and about available education and support programs in the black community. We try our best to engage our community with contests, initiatives, and community outreach programs that teach the importance of mental health awareness. We donate to charities, organizations, etc. We also travel city to city speaking at conferences and schools.” – Rod Brown, OnceLogix

“[Speaking] at universities to help young students and aspiring entrepreneurs understand: how to figure out their passion, how they can use their passion to not only build a company but help change the world, the biggest mistakes graduates make when pursuing an entrepreneurial career right out of college, and why it’s sometimes better to get a job before you pursue your dream as an entrepreneur. At each event, [I] give students access to his 12-hour online training for free, as well as access to monthly ‘office hours’ on GoToMeeting, where I answers questions for students and adults alike in regards to becoming an entrepreneur.” – John Crestani, serial entrepreneur

“The eCreamery Community Partnership Program helps spotlight the work of a different non-profit every month. eCreamery donates $1 from each pint sold to the featured organization.” – Becky App and Abby Jordan, eCreamery.com

“We choose one dog a month to sponsor and we both donate money from our sales and raise money in our store by having collection boxes that display pictures of our Brownie of the Month. Customers like knowing that their money is going to that specific dog and they love knowing the dog’s story. It’s much more compelling that just giving to a local rescue.” – Eddie James, Brownies Dog Boutique

“As a storage facility with a lot of room, we look for ways to partner with local charities that will allow us to use our space to the community’s advantage. For instance, Red Way has been a donation site for a local children’s charity called Eastside Baby Corner. People can donate clothing, toys, and other items at our facility. We’re also a Northwest Harvest food donation drop off location. Northwest Harvest is Washington’s statewide hunger relief agency.” – Derek Hines, Red Way Storage

 “As a small business owner, I believe that every company should give back to the community. At Bookmark Website Builder Inc., we donate a portion of every sale to clean water projects; which we believe enabled communities to grow stronger. We have adopted this cause as a company, many of our employees have rallied behind this as well. We are proud to be a small part in making the world a better place.” – David Kosmayer, Bookmark Website Builder, Inc. 

“Our company is very active in Habitat For Humanity. I believe philanthropy solidifies our company values. Volunteering has also helped our employees connect with the outside community while working on HFH projects. I believe ongoing philanthropy not only strengthens these core company values, it becomes a part of your company culture.” – Brad Shaw, Dallas Web Design Inc.

“Personally, I have given back by providing PR services to nonprofits. I handled the PR pro bono for Las Vegas Ride for Kids, a motorcycle road ride to benefit the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, for the first 10 years. I also handled the PR for Project 150 in Las Vegas from launch through the first one-and-a-half years.” – Tami Belt, Blue Cube Marketing Solutions 

“We make presentations at our local library. Local business owners often get stuck and we know what it’s like. So, we host free workshops in areas that we have specialized knowledge – like how to navigate a commercial lease and how to do digital marketing. It is amazing how much we can help out people that simply have not discovered some of the areas that we work on every day. We all can learn from each other!” – Carrie Wood, Leaseref.com

“We have a few hundred lawn care professionals that utilize our system, and we ask them to submit to us candidates that are in need of a lawn mowing for free because they are in a tough personal situation. So, once a month we will go and mow a strangers home who’s grass is gotten two-to-three feet tall because they are in a jam. One person was facing foreclosure another was getting ready to be cited by the city, we also try to help out single moms more than anybody.” – Bryan Clayton, GreenPal

“As a small business I am always looking for innovate ways to be involved with the community. Every year I like to give back to the community through donating our clothing and by offering mentorship to the youth. By sharing my knowledge and experience with those interested in becoming a business owner I am offering something more than just money. We are building the future and creating a stronger self-employed business in our community. During Christmas season, I also support a local charity and donate hundreds of our clothing to hospitalized children or children’s in need. I do this every year because I was blessed with a small successful business. It’s very important to me to build a stronger community and ensure the next generation has an upper hand at achieving success.” – Lisa Chu, Black N Bianco

“We source directly from Morocco with a mission to bring Moroccan style to the world. We give 10 percent of our profits back to charities in Morocco where we source from and to charities in Minnesota where we are based. We focus on empowerment especially for women since that is the vast majority of our customer base.” – Erica El Hilali, Casablanca Exchange

“I donate a portion of the sales of the product to my nonprofit, The Doggie Food Bank, which feeds dogs of the poor and homeless. I also put in my own time and money to go around feeding my dog clients.” – Julie Austin, swiggies

“Though our firm is still small (five employees), we still all do our part in our local communities by doing pro bono projects monthly, providing free consultations for organizations looking to get started and most recently we have even partnered with the local university to begin internships this fall semester for students looking to gain skills while also making some extra money while in school. there are countless ways small businesses can give back but the most important thing is to have a love of giving back and not seeing it as a burden.” – Eric Chandler, Daydream Marketing

“I hold a low-cost cat spay/neuter clinic once every four-to-six weeks to give back to the community and help decrease the stray cat population. I make nothing; the small fee goes to pay the staff. I also give an annual scholarship at the local high school for an aspiring entrepreneur. I donate to over 50 animal rescue organizations.” – Judy Morgan, Clayton Veterinary Associates

“Although we’re a virtual firm (our entire team telecommutes), we like to encourage employees to get involved in their local communities by offering a certain number of annual paid work hours they can use to help a local nonprofit because they feel passionate about. Our team members have helped with food drives, community fundraisers and more. Our firm offers significant discounts to local nonprofits we work with (such as a nearby chapter of the Military Order of World Wars), ranging from 20 percent to 75 percent off our standard campaign prices.” – Erika Montgomery, Three Girls Media, Inc.

“I strongly believe in giving something back to the community, and for the past several years I have been contributing my PR services pro bono to worthwhile causes such as to veterans and the military, special needs and terminally ill children. These groups have certainly been an honor to have helped out. As an independent/small business owner the experience has been more than worthwhile. I’m very happy to donate my PR skills in order to help make their lives a little bit better.” – Rhonda Rees, Rhonda Rees Public Relations Company

“The way I personally give back is primarily by mentoring. I participate in a local accelerator once a year as a mentor, and for the rest of the year, I set up an event using the Calendly meeting booking tool which local entrepreneurs can use to book a consultation with me, no strings attached. I typically do one or two of these a week.” – Jói Sigurdsson, CrankWheel

“To give back, I currently serve on the Board of Directors for The Child & Family Network Centers, and am on the Advisory Board for the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind and the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH). I mentor many high school and college-aged students interested in marketing and public relations. I am a frequent guest lecturer for Virginia Tech’s Department of Communications. I also donate money to and frequently attend fundraisers for causes that range from breast cancer to youth baseball.” – Frances Reimers, Firestarter

“We donate all our cocoa husk to Edible Schoolyard NYC, a program that teaches Brooklyn kids about gardening, farming, cooking and nutrition. Our husk makes for an amazing compost, so we have the privilege of literally fertilizing the soil that teaches and feeds thousands of local children every year!” – Ryan Cheney, Raaka Chocolate

“As a small business owner I give back to my local communities by participating in food and book drives. My businesses and I sponsor difference community events. I give monetarily and I volunteer with different charities and programs within my local communities. I also youth coach and speak with the youth at different schools and community programs.” – Vid Lamonte’ Buggs Jr., VLB/VBJ Enterprises LLC, 4-U-Nique Publishing, LLC

“I am a mentor to inner city entrepreneurs in town, I guest lecture at several universities and colleges to share my experience with the next generation, I sit on a local museum board, I support several local charities where my clients and friends are involved by bidding on auction items, buying tickets to events and sponsoring people on runs and walks for example. Business leaders need to lead by example and send the signal that it is not just good for business, but the whole community wins when the floor is raised.” – Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls

“We sponsored a non-profit project called Type Hike. Type Hike is an initiative that brings together professional designers to create typographic representations of each national park in the United States. The graphics are sold as prints and postcards, and all of the profits are donated to the centennial campaign. As a company that stands for sustainability and the environment, this initiative is means a lot to us. We are happy to give back to the community by supporting nature and protection of national parks.” – Saloni Doshi, EcoEnclose

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