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Carroll Business Path: Giving helps build community

As the season changes and the leaves fall there is one thing not to forget: The holiday season is for giving, and this Thanksgiving I will be giving thanks to all the small businesses that have supported the community in which I live.

Studies performed by the Small Business Administration have shown that small business can make a large difference when it comes to charitable donations. According to the most recent SBA survey, 75 percent of small business owners donate on average 6 percent of their profits each year. These businesses reap the benefits of helping others and receiving tax deductions, and a survey of customers showed that 85 percent have a higher respect for businesses that are philanthropic. Customers will see their money going not only to a local business, but also to a good cause. Capital One's latest Market Pulse Survey shows that half of the population's consumers are willing to pay a few extra dollars for a product from a company that gives back. Not only do the customers have a positive image of the business, but so do employees. Company morale is boosted as employees work together to support initiatives separate from the office. A small business can volunteer time, donate inventory or sponsor an event. Sponsoring charitable organizations is good for business, and can create a new marketing channel.

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It is important to note that not all giving is done in a monetary form. Often charitable organizations are in need of committee members and/or a board of directors who have strong business skills. Although you may feel that one more activity is one too many, your business aptitude combined with personal passion are valuable assets that can create community change. Small businesses can also drive employment opportunities for volunteerism. Consider the needs of your business; are there areas of support where a volunteer would be a perfect fit? Many local nonprofit organizations have skilled volunteers that are seeking hours and are eager to learn new skill-sets. It is a win-win situation.

Carroll County has hundreds of nonprofit organizations that are in need of volunteers, funds, sponsors and members to help implement their mission, vision and values. The Community Foundation of Carroll County, an umbrella organization which facilitates philanthropic activities within our community, is an ideal resource to identify areas of need. In addition, national organizations often have local chapters whose efforts support our local community.

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In the end, giving does not have to be performed only in the late months of the year; it is an act that has no set time schedule.

Amy Wallace is the regional director for the Small Business Development Center. Email her at amwallace@harford.edu.

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