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5 Ways You Can Give Back, Even When Money is Tight

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For most new and start-up businesses, money is tight -- which means trying to "do good" and support worthy causes usually is not extremely feesible. However, I've personally found that it's still possible to give to organizations and causes you feel passionate about... maybe just in a different way.

Not only will these "giving back" ideas help your community, they are also great opportunities to bond with your employees, and get your business name out there in the community.

1. Get involved in a local school mentoring program.

There are scads of "big-brother / big-sister" mentoring programs available in every community -- usually through local public schools. These students need someone to look up to, someone who they can trust, and someone who will help to get them on the "right track". What a wonderful way to share your business and leadership talents with young, impressionable children. !

2. Take a recent business grad under your wing. 

If your business is located in close proximity to a local college or university, you might consider offering an (unpaid) internship for a student or recent graduate so they can see first- hand the ups and downs of starting and running a business. That hands-on experience could be invaluable for them down the road -- especially if they are an entrepreneur at heart!

This could also be a wonderful opportunity for one of your currently employees to step up into a leadership role and train/mentor the intern.

3. Save the Environment.

Do your part to help "save the environment" by reusing, repurposing, and recycling -- and honestly, even if you already do some recycling, there is always more you could do.  You could also turn this into a fun office activity by rally a team of friends, employees, or neighboring businesses together for an afternoon and adopt one section of local highway to clean and care for.

4. Teach Community Ed Classes. 

If your business is service oriented (financial planner, insurance agent, realtor, consultant, interior designer, etc), you might consider offering to teach adult education classes through a local community ed program, school, or church organization. Not only will you be sharing your expertise and advice with people who might not otherwise be able to afford your services, you'll get a bit of free advertising too!

5. Donate your extras. 

There's a decent chance that you have loads of extra pens, pencils, pads of paper, water bottles, etc. all with your company name on them. If you don't need them, or if you're changing your design, consider donating those supplies to a local charity.

And if you're a service-based business, consider donating some of your time for those in need. For example, if you work in a hair salon, consider offering donation-based hair cuts to support a charitable organization. If you sell products out of your home or office, consider donating last year's models or selling them to raise money for something you're passionate about. You could even allow your employees or staff members to come up with a common charity they would like to support.

Each of these ideas will cost you a bit of time, but if money is tight, they are all excellent ways to give back to your community, your clients, and more. Plus, they offer an invaluable opportunity to bond with your staff -- or even with neighboring businesses.

What are your favorite ways to give back?

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