According to a recent survey, 73% of small businesses provide support to local charitable and communal causes to show their commitment to giving back and to express appreciation to customers and the community. The study, conducted by TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank, revealed that even though small businesses typically have fewer resources than larger companies, they still donate money, time and resources to support these causes. This article is copyright 2019 The Best Customer Guide.

TD's survey polled small businesses with US$ million or less in annual revenue and found that although they may not have major profit margins, 61% provide a value of up to US$10,000 to their community through charitable gifts, sponsorships or volunteer time on an annual basis. Notably, 16% of businesses report donating US$50,000 or more in gifts and time annually.

In addition to their own charitable efforts, 37% of Small Business Owners (SBOs) encourage their employees to volunteer in their surrounding communities outside of work hours. However, despite their dedication to local efforts, the majority of small businesses (79%) do not have an established Corporate Social Responsibilityprogram or defined community giving or volunteer mission.

"Most small businesses, by their nature, are entrenched in their local cities and towns, serving as both an economic engine and a resource. Small business owners are local heroes," said Jay DesMarteau, Head of Commercial Specialty Segments at TD Bank. "It is commendable that so many business owners find ways to give back when they themselves can often be strapped for time or resources. Developing a mission statement for charitable giving or volunteering should be part of any long-term business plan, however, to ensure any strategy is viable for both the community and the business owner."

Putting Time & Money Where it Matters
When asked to identify the one or more ways in which they give back to their community, small businesses said they are most likely to donate:

  • Goods, like products or food (35%)
  • Money (29%)
  • Time to volunteer (29%)
  • Space for community events (12%)

In terms of preferred local causes, charities (30%) and youth-focused organizations like schools and sports teams (29%) are the most popular among small businesses. Religious organizations (18%) and police and fire departments (18%) are the next most popular causes supported by survey respondents, followed by arts and culture organizations like theaters and music programs (16%) and environmental organizations (14%). Perhaps aligning with differing generational values, Gen-Z and millennial SBOs (ages 18-34) give the most money to youth-focused organizations, while their Gen-X and baby boomer (ages 35-65+) counterparts prefer donating to well-established charitable organizations such as the Red Cross.

Personal Touches Make a Difference in the Digital Age
In an increasingly digital world, SBOs still understand the importance of personalizing appreciation. Despite their reputation as digital natives, Gen-Z and millennial SBOs prefer receiving a written "thank you" (28%) from their own vendors or service providers more than discounts (26%) or gifts (11%). In fact, only 10% of SBOs said they prefer to be thanked digitally, which is especially surprising during a time when most business communications are conducted online.

When asked how small businesses express appreciation to their own customers, a verbal "thank you" in person or over the phone (23%), loyalty discounts (18%) or written thank-you notes (17%) topped the list. These businesses also view their charitable efforts as a way to thank their communities, with 31% stating that giving back shows their gratitude to the community for supporting their business. This was topped only narrowly by cultivating a positive business reputation (32%).