Small business and charities share many benefits

Do you know a small business owner? Have a local grocer you absolutely love? Maybe it’s that new independently owned coffee shop down the street that makes your morning routine a little brighter. I’ve had the privilege to get to know the leaders of many small organizations and they are among the most passionate and inspiring people I work with.

Small business owners are the largest employers in Canada, giving work to over 68 per cent of the total labour force in the private sector – small businesses employ over 8.6 million Canadians, making them essential to our economy. That’s not counting the many non-profits and charities that also employ small (and mighty) teams.

When I started my career, many employers this size struggled to find health benefits solutions they could afford. Now, with flexible options and programs that pool many small groups into one to help keep rates stable, benefits are easier to accommodate, even for charities that need to make operating expense decisions judiciously as they strive to guide as much of their revenue as possible to their direct programming.

“I believe whether you are a small or larger business or charity, employee wellbeing needs to be at the forefront of our work and a main priority,” says Emma Rogers, CEO of the Children’s Foundation of Guelph and Wellington, a small local charity doing big things for families in our community and one I’ve long admired.  She says it is increasingly important that charities offer tangible, well-rounded group benefits to ensure their team’s mental and physical needs are being met and to be able to attract the brightest possible talent to the sector.

Emma talks about how much she, too, enjoys working with small businesses, and understands all too well that another benefit that small employers can offer their employees is the opportunity to participate in employer-led volunteering and community engagement. The fact is charitable activities can improve the life satisfaction of volunteers and may improve their overall physical health. Research also suggests that volunteers gain a range of business-relevant skills and can improve their work-related outcomes through volunteering with charitable organizations.

“Overall, we know that giving back to the community plays a role in positive employee engagement, retention, and attraction,” says Emma. “It’s really wonderful to see so many businesses embedding this into their workplace culture. It’s makes it a better place for everyone while creating a stronger community.”

How can a small business get involved with charitable giving? Of course, there’s always the option to donate. We participate in the Foundation’s annual Adopt-a-Family holiday initiative, for example – it’s a fun and meaningful way to contribution. But what goes as far as writing a cheque is donating your company’s time to assist with the many programs and endeavours that charities undertake on a regular basis.

“We have high engagement levels with local businesses, whether it is donating time or a financial contribution,” says Emma, “We are helping support local kids at a time they need us most, and employees who volunteer get to see the impact immediately. It allows companies to build a stronger community all while helping a child have a brighter future.”

It is estimated that volunteers add over two billion hours to Canada’s work effort on a yearly basis, and these hours are invaluable to charities of any size, but especially smaller ones. What could be a day or week of time out of your company’s work year could make all the difference for an organization – and be a tipping point for attracting new recruits in this highly competitive job market.

The importance of supporting your employees’ mental and physical health is greater now than it ever has been, so why not do so by supporting important local charities? The results speak for themselves – higher job and life satisfaction, improved mental and physical wellbeing, new skills and experiences, and attraction and retention increase. Where’s the downside? Consider providing your small business employees the opportunity to give back and watch everyone benefit.

If you’d like to get involved with the Guelph and Wellington Children’s Foundation, click here for more information. 

Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash