This article is from the Memphis Business Journal

Giving back to the community you serve is imperative for all businesses. Whether you have 10 employees or 10,000, charitable efforts should be a no brainer.

Americans may be giving record-setting amounts and volunteering more time than ever before, but according to Fast Company, fewer people than ever before are participating. This means the increase in donations and volunteer hours are not a result of more people and companies being generous, it is simply due to those who give and volunteer doing significantly more to make up the difference.

Several Fortune 100 companies have a Memphis presence, including global brands such as FedEx, Nike and Amazon. In September, The Memphis Business Journal reported there are 30 Fortune 500 companies with a presence in the area.

With all these profitable giants having the funds to lead the philanthropy pack, owners of small businesses may feel as if it is not necessary for them to also give. This could not be further from the truth.

Small businesses have a big role to play in impacting the community. Celtic Crossing Irish Pub & Restaurant – the small business in Cooper Young that I own – strives to make a difference anyway it can. In 2017, we spearheaded a fund raiser to bring girl soccer to an inner city school, which impacted many lives.

Donating money is not just about funding a program for seniors at your neighborhood library or purchasing canned food items for a local food pantry. It is about investing in the community you serve – lifting the whole community, including your business, neighborhood, employees, patrons and more.

If you are a restaurant owner like myself, companies such as GroupRaise make hosting fundraisers easier that ever. The business owner selects several days of the week it is willing to host percentage nights and the recipients can request to have a fundraiser on one of those days – quite simple. You can always host fundraisers that you schedule yourself, as well. For example, we often coordinate fundraising events with local animal rescues and shelters. We distribute information to our audience and the recipients do so, too, making for a broad reach.

Philanthropic efforts do not always have to come in the form of a monetary gift. Gather your team and take advantage of a volunteer opportunity. You could help renovate a neighborhood park, feed the homeless at a soup kitchen or read books to underprivileged children. No matter what path you choose, monetary or volunteer based, it is sure to have a positive and lasting impact on all involved.

By playing a role, no matter how small, in improving the city your business operates in, you show customers that you are dedicated to the area and its people. Simply put, it creates goodwill and you can never have too much of that.

Moreover, with millennials having a strong draw to companies that embrace corporate and social responsibility – and since that generation has great spending power – giving back is extremely important. In fact, Forbes reports that 87% of millennials in America are more likely to make a purchase from a company that supports an issue they care about.

Many businesses conduct philanthropic efforts during the holiday season when the needs of others are brought to the forefront.

However, I’ve found it is just as fulfilling and beneficial to give all year long.

I encourage you to join me in playing a small part in making our amazing city a better place 365 days a year.

DJ Naylor is the owner of Celtic Crossing Irish Pub & Restaurant located in Cooper Young

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