It’s easy to think that smaller companies simply can’t have as big an impact on their communities as larger companies. They are often overshadowed in the news by large companies and conglomerates, and they struggle to be noticed for their good works.

Here in Colorado Springs we are a desert for corporate headquarters. You might say we are a big city of small businesses. But the good news: Although our local businesses might be smaller, their impact is certainly anything but.

With some creativity, local businesses can make a significant impact with nonprofit partners, while also reaching corporate goals in marketing, public relations and (bonus) a decreased tax burden. There are four primary ways that a small business can contribute to local charities and gain brand exposure:

Crowdfunding is an online fundraising platform that brings together the community to help fund projects. Small businesses and community members can engage to create a crowdfunding project or donate to an existing project. These projects are promoted through personal and professional networks, so you can ask friends, family and other contacts to support your ideas. Don’t believe it really works? The students of the U.S. Taekwondo Center  have raised more than $300,000 for local nonprofits in Colorado Springs and surrounding areas over the past decade through crowdfunding. This past spring, its crowdfunding efforts raised $35,000 for Children’s Hospital Colorado-Colorado Springs.

Point-of-sale donations. Although we don’t have many corporate headquarters here, we do have franchises. And when franchises partner with their national organizations, suddenly they have the power to make the impact of a corporate headquarters. For example, one local Great Clips franchisee partners with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals on an in-store fundraising campaign. Through customer and employee support at 15 salons in the Springs and Pueblo, Great Clips has raised more than $50,000 annually for children’s hospitals. These types of partnerships are the catalyst that enable small businesses to be a big player in worthy causes like transforming child health.

Events, events, events! Many companies have employee appreciation and business development events built into their annual budgets. These events can easily be turned into benefits for charity through very simple tweaks. An annual customer appreciation golf outing can morph into a charity benefit by soliciting hole sponsorship from your company’s vendors. The vendors will be happy to be in front of potential customers, and your customers will appreciate that there’s a “feel good” to the day, above and beyond a day on the links.

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Another example is BluSky Restoration’s annual “Clays for Kids” event, which is now entering its 14th year and benefits a child-oriented charity. The event is both a charity clay shooting event and a business development opportunity for companies working in the construction and restoration fields.

Partner promotions. We are so lucky to live in a generous and caring community. Small businesses can tap into this network by creating partnerships. This is easy to do. Think about the places you frequent. Most likely these attract like-minded people who are also eager to support the causes you care about. Businesses can commit a certain amount of each sale or service to a cause, which increases business and customer loyalty.

One of the best examples is Bristol Brewery’s Karma House. Every Wednesday, Bristol selects a nonprofit to receive $1 per pint sold during a designated time. The nonprofit promotes to its constituents, Bristol gets new customers, the nonprofit receives a check and Bristol gets a tax deduction — everyone wins!

If you’re feeling like your small business doesn’t have the resources, time or manpower to make a difference, don’t worry. With the tips above you can leverage this wonderful community and advance the causes that are important to your company.

Never forget the impact that your small business can have in Colorado Springs and the world at large.

Jenny Stafford, philanthropy director at Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation – Colorado Springs, can be reached at  stafford@childrenscoloradofoundation.org.

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