How your small business can spread charity cheer this festive season
Christmas can be the (cue cheesy Christmas song pun) most wonderful time of year for some, but the loneliest for others. In the spirit of spreading cheer, we’ve decided to put together a blog packed full of practical ideas for small and micro business owners to get charitable this season. Read on for some hands-on tips.
1.Box up your cheer
You might see various charity box appeals popping up around Christmas. They’re often a great, proactive way to do your bit during the festive season and the boxes themselves don’t have to cost a fortune to fill.
Although lots of larger charities, like The Salvation Army, have national marketing campaigns that ask for donations at Christmas, charities in your local community may be running a similar appeal.
Often nearby community centres and churches get involved themselves and ask for donated presents, boxes of goodies or winter warmers for the homeless in your local areas.
So, maybe you could look at what’s going on in your community and aim to create a few boxes as a business or see if your staff members would like to do their own.
If inspiration is lacking, most box appeals even have lists of appropriate things to include like one size fits all gloves, scarves, hats, books and toys, so you know exactly what to buy.
2. Get chatting
When thinking about Christmas, you may automatically think of keeping the magic alive for the children in your community, but more elderly community members can struggle during the festive period.
So why not get in touch with your local care homes to see if you can offer any help to the staff during the busy build up?
There are a few things you can do to help, depending on what kind of business you run. If you own a bakery, you could offer some handmade mince pies. If you run a nail salon, offer festive manicures for residents. Own a florist? Create some Christmassy arrangements to add some sparkle to the dining room.
Even if you don’t run these kinds of businesses, you can still volunteer your time. Sometimes this can be more valuable to people who are lonely at Christmas.
If you have a spare few hours in your week (a big ask for any business owner) you could volunteer to help cook an early Christmas lunch or go and chat with older people who may not have any family. Contact your local residential homes to see if they would welcome something like this.
3. Respond to food bank appeals
If you run a café, butcher, bakery or basically any business that sells food, a simple yet effective way to show your support this Christmas is to donate to your local food bank.
Due to the cost of living and energy crises, more people than ever are struggling to make ends meet. Christmas can be an expensive time of year anyway, so every little helps. Lots of local churches put out an appeals to collect tins of food for those less fortunate especially at Christmas, so again, check to see if you can donate this way.
Donating whatever you can will go a long way to helping those less fortunate this Christmas. If you’re in the catering industry, it might be worth saving any unused food and donating it to a local homeless shelter or foodbank (providing it won’t go past its sell by date of course).
4. Jingle around local festive fairs
Festive fairs can be a win-win situation, you can do your bit for charity and meet members of the community, while also getting some extra exposure for your business, products, and services. Local community centres and councils often advertise charity fairs all through December. So, a quick Google search will show you your nearest.
The hosts of these festive fairs sometimes look for creative small businesses to set up stalls, so why not contact them to ask whether your business could either donate stock or help out at the event?
DogsTrust and British Red Cross are among some high-profile charities that are hosting their own Christmas markets in aid of raising money this year. But depending on where your SME is based, there might be more local, lesser-known charities that are looking for support.
But even if you can’t host your own stall at these fairs, you can always go along to a few to do your Christmas shopping, the money you spend will go towards helping a good cause. Then you can pick up a bargain and be charitable at the same time.
5. Santa up your staff
Your staff might have their own ideas on what they’d like to do to be more charitable this year, so why not have a team meeting where you discuss your ideas as a collective and find out which causes really matter to them?
Christmas is a special time of year to spend with loved ones, and sometimes it can make absences even more evident. Your staff members might have specific charities that are close to their hearts, and it may mean a lot to them to have the business support them.
You could also make a pact to not send Christmas cards to colleagues this year and instead use the money you would have spent on cards to donate to a charity. Or maybe-if everyone is happy to do so-you could use the money you would have used on Secret Santa to donate to a charity of choice.
6. Cook up some cheer
For many people, Christmas lunch is the main event, the highlight of the festivities. But often, we take being surrounded by family and friends for granted. Those celebrating alone may not want to go through the extra expense at Christmas if they have no one to eat with.
So, if you’re a food-centric small business and have the capacity, why not offer a free or lower cost Christmas lunch for people alone, the elderly, or those who are strapped for cash this Christmas? It doesn’t have to be held on the 25th, but you could host it the week before and make it just as special.
If you have the money, you could go all out and include crackers and turkey. But if not, it doesn’t have to be a full Christmas lunch, you could put on a festive afternoon tea with mince pies, stollen and turnkey sandwiches.
The main part should be helping people socialise and feel less alone. Set up tables so people can chat with each other, you want to build great relationships and hopefully help them make lasting connections.
7. Host a community event
Another practical idea is to host a festive event where the proceeds go to those in need. Popular ideas include quiz nights, carol concerts, Christmas jumper days, festive bake sales or auctions. Charity carolling is a fun way get involved with your local community during the Christmas run up. You could get your staff together and bond on a festive evening out. Christmas jumper days are an easy way to collect money too, you don’t have to be part of the ‘official’ one, you can donate to a charity of your choice.
But you could get really creative with hosting your own separate event, hire out a hall if your premises isn’t big enough or even collaborate with other business owners, you could all contribute items from your niche to use as prizes in a community-wide auction.
For example, if you run a restaurant maybe offer a free drink coupon or a free dinner. If you own a gift shop, then create a Christmas pamper hamper. Every SME will have something unique they will be able to offer, so sometimes putting your heads together as a local community encourages some great ideas.
8. Pal up with a registered charity
Another positive thing to do if you can is to see if there are any local charities you could partner with. This might not be feasible if you’re a really small business but there are a number of avenues to explore if this sounds like something you’d be interested in.
Some charities will partner with businesses if you donate money to them, but maybe you could find a local charity and collaborate on a product or agree to donate a part of a certain product sale to their charity. Although this avenue may not be practical at the moment, you can still keep it in mind for the future.
How can Bionic help my business this Christmas?
Although how you express your charitable side this season is ultimately down to you, and your individual business, Bionic can help you with the mundane parts of running your SME so you can focus on the festive fun stuff.