by Kate Vandeveld

The term corporation calls to mind big businesses – large entities with expansive teams and a good amount of capital to back them up. So when we talk about corporate social responsibility (CSR), we often think about programs from companies like Starbucks, IBM, and Microsoft. Big names, big money, big potential for impact.

But really, a company doesn’t need to be large or have access to a lot of resources to make a commitment to social responsibility. In fact, there are plenty of options for small businesses that want to make an impact on the world. Here’s how:

Encourage Volunteering

Whether you have a large team or a small one, one thing that each of you has to offer is your time. If most of your team is interested in giving back, a great way to mobilize them is by organizing a company-wide volunteer day. Choose a local organization whose impact relates to your work in some capacity, or is meaningful to your team. To be as effective as possible, connect with the organization of your choice, and find out how your team can use their time to best support the organization’s work.

If your employees work remotely, or you want to empower them choose the causes that are important to them, offer a certain number of hours per month of paid time for volunteering, or encourage them to commit to volunteering a certain number of times each year. Need to make a business case for the implementation of a volunteer program? Check this out: They can be great for employee engagement and retention.

Implement a Workplace Giving Program

Another way to offer your employees an opportunity to make a difference is through a workplace-giving program. There are  many ways that your company can go about this, from incentivizing employees through gift matching programs to offering time off for donations. Spend a little time thinking through the type of program that is best for your business as well as your employees.

Take on a Pro Bono Project

If you’re looking for a way to utilize your team’s skills collectively, try taking on a pro bono project for a cause you care about. Start by making a list of the services you and your team are willing to provide free of charge, or even areas that you could use more experience in. Then, either develop a selection process for determining which organization you’ll work with, or just choose an organization that you know needs the specific type of help you can offer. If you go about it thoughtfully, you can make a huge impact by offering your services for free, without asking too much of your team.

Practice Environmental Responsibility

Offices generate a substantial amount of waste on a daily basis – from paper products to energy to water usage. If you’re looking for ways you can make a huge impact (with relatively minimal effort!), check out these opportunities for reducing your company’s environmental impact. From being more conscientious about office supplies, to minimizing employee transportation, to keeping energy usage low, you can make a difference, even if you aren’t in a space where you can invest in a large-scale sustainability program. 


To practice what we preach, our team renewed and made official our own commitment to social responsibility this year – check it out here.

Do you know of a small business that is implementing socially responsible practices in a substantial or unique way? Tell us about them – we want to spread the word! Here’s how: