If you want the public to see your company as more than just the self-storage facility on the corner, it pays to become a good corporate citizen. It's natural to want to help our communities and there are many ways you can do so, which will also help promote your business.
You’ll find several major advantages to helping your community. You'll be able to build goodwill between your facility and your neighbors, all potential customers. It gives you a great deal of positive publicity, more so than advertisements in the newspaper or online. If you're sponsoring a particular organization, keep in mind that sponsors are almost always mentioned and thanked on the organization's website and literature. You can also put up posters and flyers saying that you're a proud sponsor of each of the groups, which will increase the positive feelings your customers have about your facility. Perhaps most of all, your community outreach can make your town or city a better place for all residents.
Your community's children are one large group that you can help by being a good corporate citizen.
Consider becoming a Toys for Tots drop-off point. During the winter holiday season, many economically disadvantaged parents have a tough time buying nice presents for their kids. Toys for Tots became a solution to this problem in 1947 by accepting donations of new toys for needy families. Now, Toys for Tots has drop-off sites all over the United States. By becoming a Toys for Tots drop-off location, you can set yourself apart immediately as a company that cares. People aware of your efforts will come to associate your storage facility with goodwill and will be more likely to think of your company first when they need a storage unit.
You can support the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America by donating money or space. You could sponsor a scout meet up, whether it’s hosted on your company property or a local park.
A visit to your self-storage facility might be an interesting field trip for children. They can learn something about how a local business works, including maintaining the grounds, security and lighting systems, and how to be friendly with the public. Public schools do not teach often enough about work in the real world and a trip to your facility could be interesting for school-age children. Contact local elementary, middle, and high schools in your area and let them know you would be happy to allow classes to have field trips to your facility. You may also want to come up with suggestions for a lesson plan that a teacher can adapt for their students, such as what exactly the children will get out of visiting your site.
Helping the Homeless
Homelessness is a major problem in the United States. Many homeless men and women simply fell on hard times and are having difficulty getting a leg up. There are many ways you can help the homeless in your area, which in turn will help the local economy.
There are varying levels of homelessness and being poor and a variety of programs to assist people in getting back on their feet. These include homeless shelters for adults, medical clinics, family shelters, transitional housing, and rapid rehousing. People in all of these programs can also benefit from local food banks. You'll also find programs for work training, clothing distribution, drug rehabilitation, and more.
While the various types of housing and shelter programs do get some state funding, they often find themselves short on what they need to serve the whole community. Sometimes, the duration of programs needs to be cut. For instance, a family shelter or transitional housing program may once have been able to provide families with a year to get on their feet, suddenly finds itself with only enough to sponsor each family for only six months.
All these programs are grateful when members of the community donate money or goods to them and generally list their donors in publications, their websites, and within their facilities.
Another way you can help people in a family shelter or transitional housing is to offer them discounts on storage space, as they may need it during this period. You could ask for proof of residency in such a program and let them know that the rates will go up to their normal level when the program is finished.
Another option is holding a raffle, where you purchase some fun, desirable prizes to raffle off to the members of the community, with the money gained going to a homeless shelter program. You can also host an event on your grounds in conjunction with the raffle to raise money. Other local businesses might set up booths selling a selection of their food or other goods, with the profits going toward the charity. This would be a great way to foster a positive relationship not only with the community, but also with your fellow local business owners.
Another terrific way to help the poor and the homeless in your community is to become a food bank drop-off point. In the Western world, where we have an abundance of food, it makes no sense for anyone to go hungry. Government food stamp programs are a big help, but are really only enough for about half the food or less that a person needs every month. Food banks pick up where food stamps leave off. Contact any of your local food banks and ask how you can become a drop-off point for them.
Some people, like single mothers or fathers, may have become homeless or nearly homeless due to divorce or other economic hardships. Often, these parents were the stay-at-home moms or dads and have not been in the workforce for years. Getting back to work can be a real challenge in such a circumstance. Though it may not seem like much, one of the big problems can be not having appropriate work or interview attire. To help these people who are ready to rejoin the workforce, consider helping an organization that provides excellent interview clothing for men and women.
One such organization, located in Southern California, is Women Helping Women & Men to Work. It receives donations for suits, dresses, ties, shoes, and everything a man or woman would need to look great in an interview. It also helps with interviewing skills, computer training, resume building, and rewards clients for getting a job and staying with it. This is a very worthwhile organization. Help organizations like this by donating money, interview – appropriate clothing, or by becoming a clothing drop off point for them, you will set yourself ahead of your competition and bring positive attention to your business.
Helping Children and Adults
Refurbishing and driving vintage cars is a fun hobby for many, even those who don't engage in car restoration like to see them. In most areas, there's a good chance you'll find a local car club. If you have the space in your self-storage lot, consider hosting a small car club event once a month. Here, club members can show off the hard work they've done on their classic automobiles and the public can come and check them out. You could perhaps host a refreshment stand or two, or maybe invite some local restaurants to do so. Such an event will make your facility a fun place to go for the community on a monthly basis.
Another good idea is to sponsor a local sports team. This could include Little League, teen and adult bowling leagues, and more. Simply asked to be mentioned in the teams sponsored-by list on their flyers and so on.
Consider sponsoring local art and music programs. It's no secret that for years, due to budget cuts and legislation, schools have been forced to cut programs in the arts. This includes music, visual arts, and drama. Until around the 1970s, many public schools had orchestra programs, which were cut down to marching band only programs, and now even those are experiencing cuts. Consider donating to schools to help keep their programs going.
However, other non-school programs in the arts probably exist in your area. A local theater group, local youth orchestra, or local organization providing art education could surely use donations and assistance.
You may even have a local art museum that periodically holds art classes or seminars. Your donation may make a classroom presentation possible. Why not set up a yearly donation that allows gradeschool children to go on a museum field trip? The point is, there’s a lot you can do to improve your community by supporting the arts in your area.
Another great way to promote a safe neighborhood is becoming a McGruff safe zone. That means a few things. If children nearby are getting bullied, for instance, on their way home from school, they can go to your facility and know that they will be safe and treated with kindness. They will know they can call their parents or even the police if necessary. If every self-storage facility in the United States did this, children could feel a bit safer walking home from school.
The McGruff website also has a number of safe kids kits that you can keep in your office for children. These kits have fun activities and help children to be safer out in the neighborhood. You can purchase them in bulk and include your business name and address on the front cover of each pamphlet, which will let parents know that your facility is promoting their children’s safety.
Recycling programs make the world better for all of us. You might set up a small area on your site, ideally outside your gates for people in the neighborhood to drop-off recycling. Many areas already have recycling programs in place, which allow people to recycle from home. Often people will have their own recycling bin that goes out on trash day along with their garbage bin. However, many cities still do not have this kind of program, leaving people with no recourse but to throw perfectly good recyclable items in the trash.. By becoming a recycling drop-off point, you can help your environmentally conscious neighbors, who will then become more likely to rent storage space from you, rather than your competitors.
We all accumulate old electronics, from old computers to cell phones. StaxUp Self-Storage in San Diego County, California, has partnered with the county to provide electronics recycling points at its four facilities. The two major advantages to recycling electronics is that you protect the environment from potentially toxic substances used in the products, and you make it possible for the materials to be used safely again in new electronics. Check with your city or county’s recycling program to become an electronics recycling drop-off point.
Encouraging Your Employees to do Volunteer Work
Often people would love to help nonprofit organizations but simply don't have the time to do it. One thing you can do is give each employee eight to ten hours a month of paid time to work as a volunteer for such an organization.
The Teenager's Guide to the Real World has an excellent article on volunteer organization with which teens and adults can help, titled 20 Ways for Teenagers to Help Other People by Volunteering. Check it out for some excellent ideas. The employees who participate in your company’s volunteer outreach program could wear a company tee-shirt while volunteering. You would basically have a public ambassador doing good for the community, giving a positive face to your business.
A Win-Win-Win Situation
I'm using three wins, rather than two, because when you become a corporate citizen participating in local charities and helping the community in general, it's a win for you, it's a win for kids, it's a win for your employees, and for anyone else who benefits. No one loses, except for maybe your competitors who have not become good corporate citizens. When done right, this will uplift everyone, bringing new customers to you, and improving the community as a whole.