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6 Simple & Effective Ways Your Small Business Can Boost Its Social Impact

Written by Ryan Terrey
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Small businesses have a unique opportunity to make a positive impact on their communities and wider society. By incorporating social initiatives to help your local areas, the environment and the wider world, not only can you contribute to meaningful causes, you can also enhance your brand reputation and customer loyalty in the process.

It’s a win-win all round, and with larger corporations and government policies putting an increasing pressure on making these positive changes the norm, why wouldn’t you want to find out how you can make a difference? With that said, let’s take a look at 6 simple yet effective ways your small business can boost its social impact, that won’t put you out of pocket, and will allow you to feel like the good samaritan you are.

1. Partner with an ethical charity

Being a small business owner is all about knowing where to invest your hard earned money. It can be difficult to know where to put your capital, and if you’re in the fortunate position to have enough left over to put into alternative ventures, you want to make sure your profits are going to a deserving place. A brilliant way to combine investment with charity is by partnering with a microfinancing company. International initiatives have been set up for lenders to send loans to start-up businesses in more financially challenged areas of the world. 

You’ll pick a business owner to invest in, they’ll use your funds to help launch their start-up, and when they’re up and running, you get your loan back. It’s a brilliant way to support charities whilst also helping like-minded entrepreneurs who may not have had the same access to business opportunities as you. And you never know - you may end up growing to become legitimate international business partners after a few years of operation.

2. Comply with sustainable practices

Boosting your business’s social impact isn’t just about looking out for other people, it’s also a large part of environmental care. Australian businesses in the commercial and industrial sector were responsible for 32.8 mega tonnes of waste in 2020-21, so a simple way to have a positive impact on the environment is to monitor and improve your energy usage and physical waste.

Stock your office with energy efficient lighting, use recycled paper and materials wherever you can, have a compost bin or even a small garden if the size of your workspace allows it. With the success of a business comes the opportunity to make bigger changes than an individual alone. So harness this power for the right reasons, and champion sustainable practices in all aspects of your business that you can. You may occasionally be spending more in the short-term, but your conscience will be so much cleaner and the long-term results will pay off.

3. Encourage employee volunteer sessions 

A business should not merely be seen as a money-making machine. If you employ staff, you should view your company as a supportive place to help them develop their skills and quality of life beyond a simple salary. 

Encourage your staff to develop themselves outside of work - a popular method of doing so among larger corporations is to include a ‘mental health day’ ‘volunteer’ or ‘free’ day in the work calendar. These are paid days off, where staff are encouraged to spend time doing an activity that benefits themselves or their community. 

Not only does offering these days help boost mental health awareness and sensitivity in your workplace; it can also help boost your employee job satisfaction rates as well. You can also foster this with team activities once in a while. Whilst you’ll be out of the office every now and then, you’ll also likely see an improvement in your working relationships and your staff work ethic.

4. Run education and awareness programs

Do you remember what it was like to be learning from a business mentor? Maybe your mentor relationships are still going strong, providing exceptional learning and advancement opportunities for you as a mentee. 

If you are still benefiting from being in touch with your mentors, then why not provide the next generation with that same chance? Following a similar suit, you can devote a portion of time to connecting with and educating people outside your business network. The easiest way to do this is by using your skills and platform to either educate and raise awareness for topical social issues, or simply teach important skills to members of the community – either in-office or even by participating in industry events.

Whether that’s running free workshops or Q&A sessions in your office or even opting to speak on a panel that’s aimed at providing information to students planning to follow a similar career path, presenting in schools about the work you do, or offering tangible positions to those less able to access traditional work, there are many ways you can make a lasting difference simply by sharing the resources and knowledge your business has to offer. By doing so, you may also find that more talented people approach your workplace, having read about or experienced firsthand the positive impacts you’re making.

5. Source ethically and use fair trade

Whether outsourcing your employees, or stocking your raw materials, you should always think about the processes involved, and ensure that it’s not only you who’s benefiting from the exchange. Make sure that everyone who is involved in your business is paid fairly for the work they contribute – and if you can’t guarantee that they are – source your employees from elsewhere. When it comes to materials, make sure they’re sustainably sourced.

Of course the details will depend on the industry, but for almost every sector there’ll be avenues you can choose to follow that lead to a more ethical business. Of course, this should come as second nature, but not all businesses follow ethical guidelines as they should. Be proud of how you set up and manage your company, and display these positive choices across company branding.

6. Support local causes

More and more, future employees are looking at the social footprint of prospective businesses. A clear way to signal your genuine interest in building lasting, positive changes in society, is by showing up for local causes and events.

This could be as simple as sponsoring local music or sporting events, or as complex as volunteering at stalls. Getting your brand out there and signalling your desire to help in the community will cement your place as an ethical company, attracting equally conscious potential employees. 


With these 6 simple and effective ideas, your small business can boost its social impact. 

Making a positive change in the community and environment doesn’t have to be at odds with your profits, and increasingly, the two go hand-in-hand. Or at the very least contribute to a more satisfied workplace with ethically conscious individuals. Think of your business not just as an entity that can reap as much as possible with limited raw materials, but more how you can use it to give back to the environment and wider society – to help sustain it for future generations.

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