Companies play a key role in the wellbeing of our society through employment, their products and services and delivering social and environmental value through their sustainable activities. What role does small business play in social value?
Small businesses and micro companies are traditionally active contributors to their local communities, although they would not necessarily label themselves as having official Company Social Responsibility (CSR) or Company Citizenship programmes. Their community engagement can consist of a variety of activities such as volunteering, giving skills, products and services to charities, supporting community groups and sponsoring local events and schools.
Micro companies are run by enthusiastic entrepreneurs who are passionate about what they do. They differentiate themselves from bigger players through product innovation, locality and their social mission to make a difference. Although the founders and the employees of the companies make contributions based on their desire to make a difference, it is important for a company to harness these contributions to build company awareness or brand, to increase customer loyalty and to obtain business opportunities. The more benefits for the company, the more they can contribute.
Small businesses, especially micro companies, might not think they have much to donate or contribute to social and environmental causes. Considering the ratio of the size of these companies and contributions, this is, however, not the case. Even a small fundraising activity, such as helping a charity with skills-based volunteering or donating products and services to small charitable organisations can make a huge difference. If we consider the total contributions of hundreds of thousands of micro companies in the UK, the impact is enormous.
The biggest obstacle for companies to deliver social value is finding the right partnership – the right match. Many donations, like services or volunteering, are available at a specific time and cannot be ‘stored’, so a timely match is crucial. Some donations, like specific products (used or new goods) might require a very specific partner, who would benefit from these products. Utilising platform technology is key for saving time and money in the matchmaking process.
The next step is to evaluate the potential impact of any donation or volunteering. It is essential to find the right charity or other community group to collaborate with: an organisation that has evidence of the difference they are making. Not all charitable activities are equally powerful. Each charitable organisation has their own philosophy and methods of delivering change in our communities.
It is important for a company supporting them to understand what kind of work they would be potentially supporting to ensure the methods align with company values. For example, if a charity aims to enhance equal opportunities as their core mission, this might be done through influencing legislation, doing research, providing education, or helping disadvantaged groups find employment. The overall impact aim might be the same, but the difference made in the shorter term and the beneficiaries supported within the project are different. It is time consuming to compare charitable projects if there is no impact data available.
Having comparable data and access to impact information in a comparable form is essential to find that perfect match. This is something the right platform technology can do. For small businesses it is especially important to find and use the right technology, as it can be incredibly time and cost efficient.
whatimpact.com is running a free training series for micro companies and small businesses (max 10 employees). These sessions are designed to help you to define your social mission, to maximise the impact of your donations and to understand and utilise the impact you create for your benefit. Register here!
whatimpact.com is a matchmaking marketplace for companies to match with local and nationwide charities and social enterprises when donating their skills, products, services or money. The platform provides comprehensive social impact reporting on the partnerships and helps companies to build their brand and engage with their stakeholders. whatimpact.com is for all sizes and types of companies who wish to contribute social and environmental value for our society.