Sponsored by Sage North America

By Rieva Lesonsky

Is your small business making a difference in your community? Taking steps to support your community, your customers and your employees can benefit not only your business, but also the people around you. That’s why it’s so vital you are active in community events and causes.

For example, Sage recently launched the Sage Foundation, a charitable foundation that aims to model Corporate Compassionate Capitalism around the world. Don’t think you have to be a big business like Sage to make a difference. Here are some ways the Sage Foundation is giving back—and ideas for ways your small business can adopt the same concepts to connect with your community.

Support a local organization financially. Choose a relevant organization that relates to your business (such as a charity to benefit children, if you own a tutoring business, or the SPCLA if you own a dog grooming shop) and donate to it financially. For example, Sage has pledged to give 2 percent of its free cash flow to charitable organizations. Choose an amount that makes sense for your business.

Organize volunteer days with your employees. Hands-on volunteer work with the organization you’re supporting can have just as big an impact as financial donations—and has the added benefit of bonding your team in a fun activity. If your business is so small that it’s impractical for the whole team to take a day off and volunteer together, consider following Sage’s lead and giving each employee a certain amount of paid time off per year to volunteer at an organization of their choice.

Donate your company’s products or services to charitable organizations. The Sage Foundation will donate technology products to charities, social enterprises and nonprofits. You can donate products or services to the organization you support, or to multiple events and organizations in the community. For instance, the children’s tutoring business could donate study guide notebooks to a local school, or donate two hours of free tutoring services to each child in whichever classroom wins a contest.

Support the causes your employees care about. Matching a percentage of the donations employees give to charity is a great way to motivate giving. While this may be out of price range for some small businesses, you can make it more affordable by limiting the offer to a certain window of time. For example, matching contributions from Thanksgiving to December 31 will not only coincide with the time of year most people already make donations, but can also help lessen your business’s tax bill (talk to your accountant about this).

One great way for any entrepreneur to give back is by supporting future entrepreneurs. There are many organizations you can join that work to help encourage students from elementary school on up to start businesses and learn about entrepreneurship. Junior Achievement, the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization and Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship are three of my favorites.

The Sage Foundation launches on October 1, 2015.

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at rieva@smallbizdaily.com, follow her on Google+  and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.