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How to Incorporate Social Impact into Your Business Strategy

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The Southern Influence’s Arielle Olfers shares how businesses can have a successful business plan that includes giving back.

By Lindsey Logan, Illustration by Madison Weakley

After testing the waters in advertising, Arielle Olfers found her true passion in public relations and visual content creation. Originally started as a creative outlet for Olfers, The Southern Influence, her marketing and PR company, began as a personal blog inspired by the hospitality and pace of the South. Travel and interior-design content drove the blog, which has since morphed into a creative boutique focused on brand management and visual marketing.

When consulting with clients, Olfers stresses the importance of social impact as part of the company’s business strategy. Though many small-business owners may be drawn to helping build up the local community by giving back, sometimes it can be difficult to know where to begin. Olfers shares some of her top tips for how to make giving back a successful component of a for-profit business.

KNOW COMPASSION IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS.

“Embedding social and community impact into your brand and strategy is simply good for business. The more you give back and engage in your community, the more profit comes in later [when] working with bigger businesses.”

FIND CREATIVE WAYS TO GIVE BACK.

“If you are a small business with little cash flow, what things can you do to give back that aren’t the most obvious? [Consider providing] a discounted pizza night for kids or discounted rates to your neighbors. Could you give a certain number of hours per week to a community garden, or could you source your vegetables for your restaurant from the local farmers market? Can you find a way to switch out buying things from a major corporation to buy locally? There are a lot of different ways to give back and there are so many ways to pull a tiny portion of your proceeds.”

MAINTAIN A HEALTHY BALANCE.

“It’s important to keep a healthy ratio between how much social-impact work you’re doing versus how much for-profit work you’re doing. Make sure it doesn’t hurt your business. Give as much as you can without impacting the amount you need to pay your people and keep the company afloat.”

TAP INTO YOUR TEAM’S PASSION.

“Find what your team is passionate about as a whole. Take a poll of your staff to find something you know your team is going to be interested in because at the end of the day, it’s not just about writing a check and saying, ‘Oh, we did our job.’ It’s about everyone’s responsibility to give back, not just financially, but to give time and volunteer.”

ALIGN WITH THE RIGHT NONPROFIT.

“There’s a lot of great resources out there. Austin Gives, InLieu and Amplify Austin all have a lot of great resources. Search for the nonprofits near your area and learn about which one aligns best with what it is your company is trying to give back to.”


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