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Giving Back: 36 Ways Your Small Business Can Help

Cynthia Bunting, BusinessNewsDaily Contributor

Bob and Charlee Moore, founders of Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, have planted more than a few seeds for social change. The couple, who founded the stone grinding miller of whole grainsin 1978, recently donated $5 million to Oregon State University for health education and gifted another $1.35 million to the National College of Natural Medicine, which will fund a program to end childhood obesity.

While not everyone is able to give so generously, BusinessNewsDaily found that small business owners of all sizes are committed to giving back to their communities. We asked small business owners  to tell us what they do to give back to their communities.

In the fall, our Oklahoma City office completed a very successful corporate campaign for United Way of Central Oklahoma. Activities included individual employee cash contributions and a corporate cash donation. We also held a barbecue lunch and bake sale fundraiser for fellow building tenants and consultants as well as in-house fundraising activities such as $1 "wear jeans to work day" and a Wii tournament. In addition to fundraising efforts, we also donated time and talent for a Day of Caring at one United Way partner agency, the Center of Family Love, to repaint the main hallway of one of their care facilities.
-- Lisa M. Chronister,

We launched the "Greenpacks for Great Kids” campaign and donated $5,000 worth of eco-friendly backpacks to young people from low-income communities in New York City.
-- Ashok Kamal,

Every year for the past three years that I've been in business, one of the ways I have given back to the community here in San Francisco is by providing pro bono organizing services to residential clients or nonprofit facilities through Rebuilding Together San Francisco (RTSF).
-- Debra Baida,

Not only do we offer incredible discounts on the best things to see, eat and do in a city, but we also donate a portion of every sale to a local cause. We support a different cause approximately every four weeks.
-- Shirley Chu,

Recently, Bove’s teamed up with Shaw’s Supermarket to make a $7,000 cash and product donation to the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf. While Bove’s has been donating to the Food Shelf for many years, this year’s partnership with Shaw’s helps ensure the food shelf will be able to serve complete meals to area residents in need, and that Vermonters won’t be forced to choose between heating their homes or paying other bills and putting food on the table.
-- Mark Bove,

Because nonprofits have a very limited marketing budget, we represent them pro bono in our welcome baskets, as our community service. They provide us with the materials they want disseminated to the public, and we distribute them to every newcomer household.
-- Suzanne Meyer,

For the past four years, we have donated $1 from each customer “Connecting Point” product use to help both Y-Malawi, and South County Outreach. 
-- John Rydell,

Each time a package of Milani Hair extensions is purchased in the U.S., $3 is donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
-- Leyla Milani,

The staff is actively involved in the community and delivers meals to those in need, visits patients in the hospital and we all volunteer on various committees in our own communities. This past summer we helped clean a cemetery, assemble school supplies for those in need and taught Mitzvah Clowning to a local group of special needs students so that they would be on the giving end and not the receiving end.
-- Daniel Rothner,

For many years, we have provided and currently still give regular support for Tree of Life in the neighboring San Fernando Valley. Tree of Life delivers groceries immediately to families in need, in the interim period between getting approval for government programs.
-- Teri Gault,

MaMa Change gives back by collecting those unused or unwanted gift cards with remaining balances and redistributing them to those in need. Operation Junk Drawer is an initiative to collect those unused gift cards and donate them to the Red Cross so that they can use them for folks in need.
-- Stephanie Navarro,

We partner with Minnesota Credit Union for Kids and Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare to sell paper hearts for $1 to all our members to raise money. Each year we raise approximately $1,000 for Children's Miracle Network and Gillette.
-- Katie Grindeland,

We have partnered up with the well-known organization, Choose Haiti, by selling their bracelets on our website. All proceeds from the sales will go to the Choose Haiti organization, which will aid in building the economic recovery in Haiti.
-- Lori Krebs,

Our Community Action Committee has adopted Bryant Webster Dual Language K-8 School, a local Denver school where 98 percent of the kids are on the free or reduced lunch program. We raise money at the office by offering the employees an opportunity to wear jeans on Friday in exchange for a $3 donation to the Community Action Committee.
-- Meme Moore,

Twenty-five percent of all our January T-shirt sales will be donated to a mentoring/youth organization.
-- Rasheda Kamaria,

Global Thinking has donated $50,000 worth of in-kind printing services to LIFT, an anti-poverty nonprofit.
-- Colleen Flynn,

Family Frugal Fun donated hundreds of toiletries and some food items as well to the YWCA Arden House in Maryland this December.
-- Maggie Miller,

Ten percent of all sales are donated to Catholic Charities for children of abuse.
-- Tina Wick,

I'm the proprietor of Wilson's Soap Co. in Philadelphia. It's a handmade process and generates a lot of end pieces, etc. Instead of rebatching them, I watch Craigslist for people looking for donations and have sought out some of the local homeless shelters. In the past year I've donated 1,000 bars of soap, all of which were local donations except for 200 which were sent to Haiti.
-- Don Wilson,

We utilize our love of planning to give back to a nonprofit called Wish Upon a Wedding. This organization helps fulfill wedding wishes for couples dealing with a terminal illness. Our company is signed up to be wish grantor to help with the planning for these couple's weddings.
-- Christina Wright,

The brand donates a portion of each sale to Kicks for Cause. The Kicks for Cause foundation was started as part of a global movement to directly benefit the children and families of coffee-producing communities around the world.
-- Tara Clavell-Vera,

For April's sexual assault awareness month, I plan to give away pepper spray and/or personal alarms to nonprofit rape crises centers and survivors. I ask that survivors share their stories, what happened, how they survived and what they learned from the situation. I will award those whose stories are chosen with a product.
-- Tracey Hawkins,

This past holiday season, we collected, wrapped and distributed Christmas gifts to children in need in our local community. Throughout the year, we volunteer at many nonprofit events and I actually pay [my employees] their wages while volunteering!
-- Crystal Brown-Tatum,

One way Ergolution gives back to the community is with our "Ergo4Kids" program, where the purchase of our software goes to support a backpack safety and ergonomics training program for local schools.
-- Charissa C. Shaw,

Baking for Good is giving back by donating 15 percent of every purchase to a cause the customer chooses. Our online bakery company is inspired by the idea of a bake sale, and built into it is a mission to raise money for nonprofit and community organizations.
-- Emily Dubner,

Divorcing Divas hosts a raffle and live auction at their all day educational conferences in the Twin Cities. Tubman (one of the first women's shelters in the United States) uses the dollars donated to provide free legal, medical, financial and emotional support to those in need.
-- Christine K. Clifford,

In the spirit of the holidays, gravitytank has made a donation on behalf of its clients to Heifer International for livestock, tools and training for families in need.
-- Michael Winnick,

Surf Ohio gives one dollar for every shirt sold online to the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation.
-- Ron Kaplan,

My daughter and I have a company that sells funky Christian bumper stickers in an attempt to make people more comfortable letting others know they believe. We donate a portion of our sales to The Salvation Army, which is one of the largest Christian-based nonprofits in the world, but considering this year's economy we decided to raise $10,000 for them before the holidays.
-- Jennifer Slater,

We have designed a line of products made from donated old fence boards from our local community and the labor is providing employment for disabled adults though an organization called BARC. We continually donate our time cleaning up graffiti or planting trees. A couple years in a row we organized a feed the homeless day, where we fed and clothed over 200 people in a local park.
-- Sasha Windes,

Each year we donate at least 1 percent of sales to coastal conservation work and science. For example, our donations have gone to help prevent illegal trophy hunting of grizzly bears; to conduct research on the rare, white spirit bear; to fund seabird research; to publish Raincoast Conservation Foundation's annual report; and to find innovative solutions to protect wild Pacific salmon, which are the lifeblood of the rainforest.
-- Maureen Gordon,

For nearly 20 years, it has been our holiday tradition to give every employee in the firm 20 $1 bills. The employees take the 20 $1 bills, spread out across the Denver area, and find someone or some organization who could use the money to make a difference, even if might be a small difference.
-- Jim Thomas,

We give back 20 percent of profits annually. We focus on family and child-centered charities by giving back several ways, via our affiliate charity program, product donations and straight donations.
-- Anita Mahaffey,

[We give back] to women's shelters helping women with interviewing and job preparation skills, in addition to teaching our curriculum that will help empower these ladies and insure in the future that they are not victims.
-- Michael Kothakota,

To support breast cancer research via the Susan G. Komen Foundation we tweeted a picture of a car and encouraged followers to retweet the picture. For each retweet of the picture back at the dealership's Twitter handle, we donated $1.
-- Andrew Shipp,

Every year, we take on a nonprofit client whom we do pro bono work for. The client is normally someone who needs some help building an app or needs some technical consulting on a project.
-- Tara Anderson,

[One way we give back is through our] recycling program. This is a program we developed where you, the customer, can donate your outgrown baby clothing to us. We will in turn give you up to a 15 percent discount on your future order on our website and then will donate the clothing to a local women's shelter in our community.
-- Lisa Cratty,

Each month a percentage of the sale of each jar of de-aging solution is donated to a charity.
-- Louisa Maccan-Graves,

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