How Giving Back Can Help Your Business

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volunteerI’m a big believer in giving back by donating your time and expertise to your community and your industry. Volunteering can have a number of benefits — helping others, enhancing your skills, becoming active in your community, and creating a sense of achievement. But giving back can also help your career and business. While I wouldn’t recommend volunteering solely for the business benefits, here are some of the areas where you may see value from your efforts.

You can develop new relationships.

Getting out there and volunteering in your community puts you in a great position to meet new people who you may not otherwise meet. These relationships are not only good for networking, but they also help you to create a group of people to consult with outside of your immediate business network.

It can broaden your experience.

Even if you donate time doing something you do everyday, volunteering provides an opportunity to work on something new with new people in a new place. You get to see more and experience more, and you never know where you might learn a new skill, discover a new way to do something or expand your knowledge in some other valuable way.

It provides indirect marketing exposure.

Sometimes the best marketing is marketing that happens naturally. This can happen when you are focused on a task, especially one that involves collaboration and teamwork.

It’s good for your reputation.

If you work for yourself, everything you do, on and off the job, impacts your business reputation. Giving back is one way to position yourself in a good light. When you spend time and effort for the betterment of others, you are telling clients, potential clients and colleagues that you are empathetic to those around you.

It makes you more well-rounded.

Volunteering makes you well-rounded, as a person and a business owner. And when you volunteer for the right reasons (and realize all of the benefits listed here are really just peripheral to the main purpose of giving back), you just may become a better person.

Do you volunteer? How as it benefited you?

Image credit: BSK

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  • wildscribe

    I have done several projects for non-profits and I have also found it to be very rewarding mentally, emotionally and financially.

    Working for non-profits puts you in contact with a lot of people that you would normally never meet. I have been involved with an art museum and a group that teaches computer skills to at-risk high school students.

    Along with helping others, I have also gotten leads that have opened doors to corporate work, including one on-going job that brings in $10,000 per year.

    Given the current poor economic climate, if you are having problems finding paying work, I suggest hooking up with a non-profit. You’ll feel good about helping others, keep your skills up-to-date, add to your portfolio. and maybe bring in leads for paid projects.

    Another great blog. Thanks Alyssa!

  • http://www.j9consultants.com jef2904

    Well I’ve done a lot of work for non-profits and a lot of their members refer me to other organizations because of the help I have given them also most non-profits are easier to work with than large bureaucratic organizations. BTW I would say 99% of Alyssa’s posts have helped me in one way or another good job. Keep at it.

  • bloodofeve

    I’ve been working with two charitable groups since 2002, from my point of view I’ve found it very rewarding. Charities often don’t have the finances to have website services paid for and by helping them they have promoted my website services for free.
    If you are going to work for free for charity , set some strict guidelines so that your work isn’t undermined by people who have little or no knowledge of what a website can do for them. The should always allow you to advertise the fact that you are producing the work and shouldn’t restrict your promotion of their site as an example of your work.
    I have found that my relationship with the two charities I work for has become more in depth and the feed back I receive has had excellent results for my business in general.Working with in your local community on projects like this helps get your name well known with little outlay in advertising.

  • givingadvice.com

    And giving for businesses works when done with a strategy. As a philanthropy expert to small businesses and soloentrepreneurs, the biggest mistake is thinking of giving from the ‘checkbook philanthropy’ approach and then sendin out press release, good stories about the ‘good deed done.’ Charitable giving can be a GREAT business strategy that benefits the business, community and the causes all at the same time.

    Maggie F. Keenan, Ed.D.
    Chief Giving Strategist
    http://www.givingadvice.com
    Author: Small Businesses Give Big!

  • smarsh

    I agree with all you’ve said, but…

    I was on the board of a local non-profit and offered free services to a couple of others that really needed it (no motives – just to be helpful) and it was all bad.

    I quit the board after 6 months. The county politicians were involved and between them and clueless board members, they were bent on destroying the organization. It’s nearly collapsing now. The two other small non-profits couldn’t handle anything and disappeared. Now I know why they’re small and needy – they’re run by well intentioned but inept people. The lesson to take away is: follow your heart but be certain that even for goodwill, the place you donate your valuable time is a place that can make something of it.

  • Michelle

    I frequently volunteer on AllExperts.com and on Twitter. It’s been a great source of new connections for me. In one instance a gentleman that I helped with some QuickBooks problems in turn offered to upgrade the RAM in my laptop and not charge me for labor. In another instance the person I helped sent me a product from their site/business.

    I believe that volunteering is also a way to Pay it Forward and know that all things will be returned 10 fold!

    Thanks for the great post!