Why Give Back?
Like it or not none of us live or run our businesses in a bubble. We all have impacts on the communities we live and work in…some positive and some not as positive. And all communities and locales have challenges whether it be homelessness, poverty, hunger, trash on the roadsides and beaches or ecological imbalances between wildlife and “urban sprawl”.
In my current location, on the south Oregon coast, we have all of the challenges I mentioned as well as the seasonal wildfires that can cause quite a bit of loss of property, livelihood, natural resources and even life. Within only a few short blocks of my home/office there are two food pantries, a soup kitchen, a senior center, an elementary school, a clothing and household goods bank and a community garden. There are quite a few resources here for it being a smaller town but still, it’s obvious many needs are still not being met.
Vacation Rental Owners & Managers REALLY Need To Do This!
For owners and managers of vacation rentals there is much to take into consideration about what kind of impact your business has on the community. There’s the increase of cars and people, more trash to dispose of than a long-term rental and then the way your rentals may (or may not) impact the availability of long-term rentals for local renters. Of course, responsible vacation rental owners can also use the influx of traffic from tourists and other visitors to help boost the local economy by encouraging guests to support local products and non-chain businesses and farmer’s markets. The extra trash may be offset by encouraging guests to recycle as much as possible and other strategies. There are ways to offset your business’ carbon footprint and that your guests generate traveling to the locale by supporting public utilities and other “green” carbon neutral businesses for products and services like your web hosting company.
Don’t Just Throw Money
You can also dig in and get more involved to help find and support solutions in your community, directly. If you make it part of your marketing plan and business strategy there can be a lot of opportunities to blog and publicize what you are doing on your business website. Not only does this help bring attention to community efforts (many non-profits are underfunded and don’t have the resources to do much p.r. or marketing) but it is a win-win for you, the business owner, because not only are you creating engaging and interesting content for your website blog but also showing guests and potential clients that you care.
Also, becoming more visible in the community in a larger arena which includes involvement in non-profit activities can help offset or even head off some of the issues many are having legally (limits on short term rentals or outright bans) by starting a dialogue with key community stakeholders.
Besides the obvious benefits, “giving back” is just the ethical, neighborly thing to do. Plus, you may win some guests/clients who may be on the fence about who to rent from or which industry vendor to trust with the next web and marketing project (in my case). It’s just not enough, in many cases, to go about “business as usual” as worked 10 years ago or 20 years ago or even 5 years ago. Now we live in the era of the “triple bottom line” which means balancing people and the environment with profit. The good news is that there are plenty of examples of other businesses doing this successfully and lots of information and help out there to step you through the basics.
Think Local And Get Your Hands Dirty
And while it’s okay to just give X amount annually to the local charity or cause of your choice I encourage you to also contribute sweat equity. Get the family together or multiple local business owners and their families and get out there and clean the beach or serve up holiday meals at the soup kitchen or grow organic food and take it to the food bank. Yes, give money too but also give of yourself personally. Meet the people you are helping and the volunteers who are serving, get your hands dirty and plant that fruit tree in the community garden, teach low income people about starting a business, or literacy, or basic English. Whatever your passion is and what you feel is most important or the issue in your community that most touches your heart (or outrages you)…let your emotions be your guide.
Introducing “The Star Throwers”
One group of vacation rental professionals from all around the world has joined forces to support each other in their efforts to “give back” and offer each other feedback and ideas. The Star Throwers is the brainchild of vacation rental marketing pro, Matt Landau and features community projects from his Inner Circle Forum members and others. “Star throwers pick up the slack and mend the societal safety net that has been left to fray by choosing unique solutions in our respective communities. As opposed to waiting on the sidelines while traditional institutions may or may not act, Star Thrower solutions involve organizing and taking action directly.” The core values are 1) Action 2) The Triple Bottom Line 3) Adaptability & 4) Sustainability. The member initiatives include a wide range of subjects: supporting artists in France by offering free stays in trade for artwork, demobilizing street gangs in Panama through entrepreneurship to helping orphaned and injured black bears in Tennessee and cultivating food security through gardening on the south Oregon coast. If you need some inspiration for your own efforts take a look at all of the initiatives…and keep checking back because The Star Throwers are growing fast!
Red Spiral Hand Giving Back
We’re happy at Red Spiral Hand to offer some ideas for how you can give back to your community. In fact, we generally include ideas about giving back in the Marketing, Blogging and SEO Strategies we provide to clients. Of course, we are also happy to answer questions and help brainstorm some ideas for free as part of our free marketing and web assessments so jump on over here if you would like to pick my brain!
Red Spiral Hand is a family run web and marketing business and we choose to give back mostly by contributing to community gardening efforts, seed exchanges and helping to teach low income families how to grow healthy organic food in urban gardens for very low cost. You can read more about one of our local efforts here.