Top 5 Volunteering Opportunities for Your Small Business Jessica Lunk If you want to get your name out there and impress members of your community, consider setting aside a little time for volunteer work. Volunteering has great intrinsic value, of course, but it can also show potential clients and customers that you and your employees are passionate, caring people who have the best interests of your community at heart. At Hatchbuck, one of our core values is Make A Difference. As a team, we are always looking for ways we can give back to the St. Louis community. The following volunteering opportunities double as excellent marketing strategies for small business: Organize 5Ks, Marathons, and Other Races Local races get community members off the couch — and they’re great team building opportunities. What could be better than bonding over matching sweaty shirts and sore feet? The best races are run for a good cause, such as the food shelf, humane society, or some other local charity. These events can be tough to pull off, so volunteer your company’s efforts for the setup process, runner guides, or serving food to those who have completed the race. Feel free to donate prizes to the race’s winners, as well as the runner-up contestants. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness and recall your business in the future. Community Gardens Not everybody is eager to run a marathon, but plenty of your neighbors love eating fresh fruits and veggies. Whether you and your employees make a commitment to weekly sessions in a community garden or you simply choose to sponsor one of these increasingly popular plots, you will improve both the beauty of your neighborhood and your company’s reputation. Plus, if you get down in the dirt, you’ll have the opportunity to sample your hard work. There’s nothing quite like eating a fresh tomato off the vine after completing a hardcore gardening session. Highway Cleanup Candy wrappers, cigarette butts, and other debris line the highways in your region. Take care of this eyesore by hosting regular cleanup events. Many locales allow you to sponsor certain portions of local freeways or highways. In exchange for financial support or regular cleanup efforts, you may be allowed to post a sponsorship sign, which serves as an effective form of local advertising. Mentoring Kids and Teens Launch a mentorship program and get a new generation of professionals excited about your industry. Many schools are willing to work with your business to have kids spend a day or two shadowing your employees. If these youngsters like what they see, they will quickly spread the word. This is an excellent first step for any business looking to launch a full-blown internship program. Give Lessons Use your employees’ unique skills to give the community the gift of free education. The type of freebies you provide will largely depend on your company’s industry. Tech companies can host computer classes for seniors, restaurants can provide cooking classes, and dance studios can teach people of all ages how to get their groove on. If the free activity ties back to your company’s mission, you’ll find it easy to build brand awareness. Although everybody loves to attend free events, you can also ask for a small cover charge and give all proceeds to a cause benefiting the community. Attendees are also happy to trade in nonperishable food shelf donations for free classes. Show clients and customers that you care by reaching out and making a difference through volunteering. Your public perception will be through the roof in no time!