Beyond selling products or services, having your business get behind a social mission can garner customer loyalty and nourish your community and the lives of you and your staff.
A business owner/manager has a lot going on, whether they’re opening a new store or managing an existing one. From how to get more people in the door to managing staff schedules to marketing and business development, their job is never done. One thing that often gets overlooked—but shouldn't—is the value of making a connection and an impact in the local community.
Millennial Marketing recently found that 50% of Millennials are more willing to make a purchase when their purchase supports a cause. And it’s not just Millennials who support social causes. A recent survey conducted by Deloitte of business leaders and HR professionals found that “citizenship and social impact” were rated critical or important by 77% of the respondents.
Supporting your community feels good, of course, but it also gives your staff something to be proud of and share with your customers. Small independent businesses and multi-location operations can produce a significant impact when they focus their time and energy on the organizations that matter most to their teams and communities.
There’s no better feeling than making a difference in your community and in the lives of others. Having a focus, and sticking to it, will help you and your staff get behind a cause and start to create real change.
Focusing Your Efforts Will Pay Off
Marketing research firm Toluna recently surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults and found that younger consumers expect more than a donation to charity; they expect brands to have a corporate responsibility platform. It should always feel good to make a donation and help your community, but is there a way to make a bigger impact? Think creatively. Where can you focus your charitable time and efforts? And remember, not all help is necessarily monetary.
You Will Make a Difference—Every Day
Choosing a social mission for your business is not about being on trend. Social missions should never be considered a way to increase publicity or gain more customers.
If you really want a social mission behind your business, think about what you and your staff feel strongly about—both personally and community wise.
The Coffee Oasis, based in Bremerton, Washington, is a faith-based nonprofit organization that consists of four coffee cafes, three Oasis Centers and a variety of youth programs that offer homeless and street-oriented youth aged 13-25 a gathering place for friendship, belonging, resources and opportunity.
The company began in 1997 when Dave, a former pastor, and Cindy Frederick chose to focus their attention on an area of Bremerton that was filled with drugs, poverty, neglected children, homelessness and violence. They founded Hope in Christ Ministries in 1996 and purchased The Coffee Oasis the next year. In addition to job internship opportunities at the cafes and the coffee roastery, the Oasis Centers provide youth with a place for essential services such as showers, laundry, snacks, tents, sleeping bags, life skills classes and more.
The Coffee Oasis receives tons of support from the surrounding community, but, more importantly, they’re able to make a tangible impact every day.
You Can Support Both Friends and Community
In Chicago, there’s only one place to find Kosher barbecue in Lakeview, and that’s at Milt’s Barbecue for the Perplexed. Not only is the restaurant top-rated for its barbecue, but 100% of the profits go to charity.
After losing a friend and cherished member of the community to MS, Milt’s owners set up the Jeffrey F. Kahan Memorial Fund, donating all of Milt’s profits to the fund. They also host speakers from around the world at the restaurant in their late friend’s honor.
By donating profits to this fund, not only is Milt’s helping other MS sufferers, but they’re honoring a friend of the Chicago community, someone that locals loved and remember fondly. This is a perfect example of a social mission that touches the lives of those close to home and others further away.
Milt’s also works with Keshet, a program that integrates students, campers, residents and employees with disabilities into area businesses. Recently, with the opening of Milt’s second business, a take-out store called Extra Innings that also donates its profits, the business employs individuals with disabilities at the counter, checkout and in the kitchen.
You don’t have to be nonprofit like the examples here in order to make an impact on your community. Simply making the decision to dedicate your charitable resources to one place is a great first step in having a social mission.

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