Small Business Giving: How to Make a Big Impact on a Small Budget

Wish kid Trevor, 4, of Jeromesville, Ohio, tours a construction site at  Kokosing Construction  in Columbus, Ohio on World Wish Day (Matthew Allen/AP Images for Approach Marketing and  Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana )    

Wish kid Trevor, 4, of Jeromesville, Ohio, tours a construction site at Kokosing Construction in Columbus, Ohio on World Wish Day (Matthew Allen/AP Images for Approach Marketing and Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana)


I have the pleasure of working with many small business owners who feel a deep commitment to give back to the community. This is something I strive to do as much as I can with my own business, and find ways where I can support causes that are near and dear to my heart.

But small business owners also must manage the business side of things and the reality of tight budgets and limited resources for giving back. While I am in awe of the multi-million dollar charitable gifts made by large corporations, I know my philanthropy budget will never be able to compete on that scale.

So as small business owners, we have to find creative ways to make a big impact. This year I’ve learned a lot from fellow small business owners and seen many examples of creative philanthropy.

In the spirit of giving, I’d like to share some of the ways in which small business owners can support the community and give back in our own big way:

Go big—one person at a time.
One of my favorite organizations to support is Make-A-Wish. As a parent myself, I can’t imagine the emotions that go along with having a child diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. It warms my heart to give to these families in a time when they need it most. My public relations agency Approach Marketing has had the opportunity to work with Make-A-Wish for several years now, and our partnership has grown in ways I would have never imagined.

In April 2016, our team worked to grant the wish of a local wish kid, 4-year old Trevor, who wanted to become a construction worker for a day (just like his dad). Through a financial gift to Make-A-Wish, plus planning and event staffing from my team, we could make this wish happen. Being part of this day is truly one of my most proud moments as a business owner. Watching Trevor, his little brother Riley and his parents take a break from his cancer treatments and instead get the royal treatment—from a police escort in a limousine, to visiting several construction sites and being able to build his own toy box, sit in equipment and practice excavating—is a memory that will stay with me forever.

I know this wasn’t a multi-million-dollar gift. We helped one little boy, one family. But, by giving our resources and our time, we were able to change Trevor’s life forever…so go big, one person at a time.  

Match your outreach to your passion.
Our friends at Columbus-based advertising agency LaineGabriel are amazing artists themselves, and they have made a commitment to supporting arts in education through their Tenfold initiative. Inspired by the experience of LaineGabriel principal and founder Lisa Laine Miller’s own high school art teacher helping her pay for college, LaineGabriel provides a $1,500 scholarship each year to a high school student pursuing an arts degree in college.

In addition to the scholarship, the LaineGabriel team works throughout the year to support arts in education through speaking to school groups, inviting students into their office and mentoring those interested in careers in marketing and advertising. By matching your outreach to your passion, you will be more likely to keep up the momentum throughout the year and continue to find ways to give back.

Partner with other small businesses.
Joining together with other small business owners can be a great way to not only make connections for your business, but increase the impact of your combined philanthropic efforts.

In October, I became part of the Women Inspiring Strength and Hope (W.I.S.H.) initiative for Make-A-Wish, and committed to raising additional funds to grant another wish—this time to send 10-year-old Grace to Paris. To help reach this $8,000 goal for Grace, Approach is reaching out to our friends, clients and partners to work together to support this fundraising effort.  

Our friends at Goldfish Swim School in Columbus and Indianapolis are joining in on the cause because together we can make a bigger impact. As small business owners, we are often networked with other entrepreneurs. Look to this network to bring together multiple partners to make a big impact on a small budget. 

Whether it is making an impact for one person or one family, finding multiple ways to give back to a cause that matches your passion or joining forces with other business owners, there are many ways small businesses can give back in a big way. I’m excited to continue to look for ways to support the community in 2017 and celebrate other small business owners who are helping make the world a better place.