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Updated: December 11, 2023 Opinion

Viewpoint: Local business is good business

We are deep in the season of giving. It is now common knowledge that corporate social responsibility is vital. An organized employee giving program, sponsoring fundraising events, and offering your associates pro bono or volunteer hours can all have a motivating and positive effect on your team.

A woman with long brown hair is wearing a blue turtleneck.
Julie Bowditch

Let's take it one step further. Does leadership actively model your employee-giving program? Do you show up or send your management team to the events you support? Do you facilitate and encourage the implementation of volunteer hours and empower your team to engage with the organizations that matter most to them? These are the things that can take your CSR efforts from performative to transformative. It can make a difference in retaining and attracting talent and maintaining a collaborative culture.

Giving translates to the business-to-business space. Each of us has a unique platform and a budget, whether big or small. Even those of us at relatively small nonprofits have necessary operational functions. We all have choices in terms of where we invest those dollars.

Supporting local and small businesses is crucial to a healthy economy and a symbiotic community. We have the collective power to sustain other businesses in our region, help them offset rising taxes and rental costs, and keep their lights on. We have the potential to make sure our big city preserves that small-town feeling that has attracted and kept us all here. We can each contribute directly to the health and well-being of our neighbors.

This time of year is a tangible reminder of why local generosity matters, but it’s so much bigger than Small Business Saturday or the holidays. Yes, it’s about where you host your staff party or get your catering from, but it’s also about where you choose to take your client to lunch or dinner any given month. It is about where you order your company's promotional products or merchandise. It’s about who designs your website or brokers your insurance. It’s about who you subcontract with year round.

We have an opportunity to hold one another accountable. The first questions I ask when I interview a new potential vendor are: What is your service region? What does giving back look like at your company? Who are your other clients? I’ll never be their biggest customer, but I can remind them we care and only do business with those in alignment. What if your company did that, too? What if we all did?

Your clients and employees want to know you contribute to the area where you solicit and maintain business. Conduct business locally and give generously to organizations strengthening and supporting our community. Investing back in the area that can make or break your success is a smart business model. It will prove profitable in the long run.

Julie Bowditch is the executive director for the foster child advocacy nonprofit The CASA Project Worcester County.

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