Wednesday, May 18, 2011

National Small Business Week and Small Business CSR

Well -I didn't get my wish. Last year I wrote about my hope, (I hope you read this one, as it's one of my favorites,) that this year's National Small Business Week conference would include something about Social Responsibility and/or philanthropy in their agenda as important contributions to small business growth. This year there will be two presenters who come from the social venture and non-profit sectors: Seth Goldman of Honest Tea and Steve Case from the Case Foundation. Otherwise no mention in the schedule of the burgeoning trends of social ventures, cause marketing, and strategic philanthropy.

Small businesses have been hit hard by the recession and many of them are looking for more ways to survive and to be profitable. The conference is providing small businesses with wonderful learning opportunities and the support to help build their small businesses. Businesses may feel they have little to give when they are struggling to survive, so it makes sense for the conference to focus on topics about how to build small businesses.

In spite of the downturn, many small businesses have continued their support of their communities and have adopted more sustainable green practices and have engaged in small business cause marketing. see Why Giving is Good For Business and Patriotic . In addition, an ever increasing number of the hybrid social ventures, many of which we have written about, are popping up and have started up in this last year or two.

These businesses need business advice too, some of which could be general to all start ups and some of which need to be addressed the the specific hybrid form they take if they are supporting charities. As for marketing, while many large companies are dedicating their marketing dollars to go directly to cause marketing ,as they know that customers are seeking to support companies that give back.

This kind of knowledge and advice would be useful for small businesses to have so they too can take advantage of  the cost savings as a result of their green practices, can reap the many benefits of giving back to the community, and can experience the rewards from partnering with a cause as part of their marketing strategy. Maybe all of this will make it on the agenda in 2012.


Jana said...

Great post, Lalia, and too bad your wish (for a greater focus on small business and philanthropy wasn't realized - maybe next year?!) CSR/Community Investment/ Corporate Philanthropy is equally as important for small and mid-size businesses as it is for largeco's. After all, at the end of the day, they're competing for the same talent (employees) and often for the same customers. Small and medium sized businesses can engage their consumers and employees through actively involving them in giving back - they just need more advice, best practices and tools to do it. Kudos for bringing this sentiment forward.
- Jana Taylor, Benevity

Lalia Helmer said...

Thank you Jana,
It is so true that CSR is just as relevant to small companies as to large ones, maybe more so as they are part of the fabric of their local communities and closer to the needs.
I look forward to seeing Benevity take on the world with their benefits to employee CSR engagement.

Alan said...

Great post.It is great job to organize conference about small business.Thanks for sharing.
-Small Business IT Support

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Anne Shaw said...

Wow!!!Its awesome, Lalia, this kind of knowledge and advice would be useful for small businesses and enable them to adopt more sustainable green practices.