Part of running a successful business is giving back to the community that helped lead the company to success.

Small businesses can especially benefit from supporting their local community because it will get the name out there and create positive messages about the company, but bigger business should also pay it forward.

For companies who want a creative and fun way to get involved in the community, this is a good place to start. There are many ways to pay it forward depending on the size and personality of your business and employees.

Here are a few original ways for businesses to pay it forward:

1. Highlight Employees Who Are Community Volunteers.

Chances are, some of your employees already give back to the community in one way or another. Find out who these superstars are by asking around and feature them in a company newsletter or a “community corner” monthly.

Soon enough, employees will share the volunteer activities and service projects they do outside of work, which will create motivation for the entire company. If you have enough room in your budget, you can even offer a small bonus or an extra day off for the featured employee each month to boost drive.

2. Become a Sponsor.

By sponsoring a youth sports team or a local event, you’ll not only get your business’ name out there, but you’ll make a difference in the lives of your community members.

Find out if any of your employees have children on a sports team who need a sponsor. Alternatively, you could become a sponsor for your community’s Relay for Life or March for Dimes.

Take this a step farther and get your employees to participate in these events! These are great ways to show your support for the community while fighting for important causes.

One way to pay it forward and bring your employees closer together is a group service trip. There are many trips you can take as a group that allow you to bring food and water to those in need, care for children, build homes and bring love to communities that desperately need it.

These trips are usually highly customizable to support the number of people you want to take and the amount of time you’d like to spend. On a group service trip like this, your staff will grow much closer in ways that they couldn’t have without this opportunity — and they’ll positively enjoy the chance to give back.

3. Teach a Skill.

As a successful businessperson, you’ve developed valuable skills that other people in your community would love to have.

Take time to teach classes to local residents through a community center to share the knowledge you gained in the business world.

You could also volunteer to speak at a local school or tutor kids and young adults who need help in a field you know well. Using your skills for something other than work can be very rewarding.

You can also help non-profit organizations run their marketing, finance, or accounting departments by using your skills. This could require a team with the right skills and knowledge to run them, but there are often not enough funds to help people learn new skills. Here’s where your business skills could be useful.

If you own a business that specializes in any of those areas, this would be a great way to get involved with non-profits and help them grow so they can keep growing.

You might even do something practical, like source commercial playground equipment and have your team install it or help create a space for it.

4. Promote Other Businesses.

Helping other local businesses is a great way to give back to your community. Buy from local businesses when you can and set aside a segment of your website to link to the ones you like best. Cross-connecting with businesses in similar markets where you don’t compete lets you reach more people and help other local business owners at the same time. Locally owned businesses help make communities work because they keep city centers alive, connect neighbors in a web of both social and economic ties, and support local issues. It works out well for everyone.

5. Hold a Contest Among Employees.

Holding an office-wide contest is a great way to give back while having fun. Have each employee choose a cause that is important to them and then hold a contest. The winner receives money to donate to the charity of their choice.

The contest will ultimately depend on the type of work your company does.

It can be work-related or something for fun, such as the employee who walks the most steps in a week or the employee who brings in the most bags of clothes to donate to a local goodwill.

This will get employees excited and involved in giving back.

6. Have a Care for the Community Day.

Get the whole team out of the office for a “care for the community” day. Volunteer at a local food bank or at a local charity that needs help.

You could also take part in a Habitat for Humanity Project and build a house as a team for a needy family. A day spent giving back will be great team building and your employees will appreciate the break from the office!

7. Get Your Customers Involved.

If you work in a company that regularly interacts with customers, you can get them involved in giving back!

Try putting out a collection jar to collect donations for a charity and encourage customers to put extra change in it. During the holidays, set up a giving tree, where customers can choose a tag and buy a gift for a deserving child or family.

Completing a service project with your employees and customers is a great way to become a more rounded business, get your customers involved and pay it forward.

8. Stand Behind Causes That Support Your Values.

When choosing which service projects to do and which causes to support, think about the values of your company.

Does the business have a specific focus that can lead you to a certain cause? Does somebody on your team suffer from a disease that the company can support? Does a specific charity resonate with your company’s mission?

If you choose causes wisely while giving back, you’ll be able to spend your time and energy giving to a charity that you’ll feel good about. The community will begin to identify you with specific causes which will help your brand.

9. Encourage Employees to Volunteer.

Many companies now offer paid time off to employees who want to do volunteer work.

A company can show it cares about the community by letting employees volunteer for a certain amount of time each month or year. This boosts morale and gets the company more involved in the community.

Some of the biggest companies in the world give their employees a certain number of hours each year to work for a charity of their choice.

Paying it forward and giving back to the community is an important part of any business, though sometimes it isn’t the first priority. Use these ideas to make giving back a main concern in your company and feel good about the work you do inside and outside of the office.

About The Author

This is a guest post by Lexie Lu, a designer and blogger. She contributes to the design world and usually has a cup of coffee close by. She writes on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter.