Corporate community involvement can be seen as marketing with a bit of extra heart. When you participate in local community service efforts, you have the opportunity to do good for your neighborhood while also helping to improve your brand's visibility. Here are some tips on how to leverage your involvement with your community, whether that translates to sponsoring the local baseball team or taking out ads in the high school's playbill for their annual theater production.

Leveraging Corporate Community Involvement

As a small business owner, you're probably bombarded with requests to sponsor, promote or help local charities, schools, clubs and groups. While supporting your local community is a worthwhile task in itself, such involvement can also help engender positive feelings toward your company, which can help boost your brand and reputation.

As such, corporate community involvement should be part of your annual marketing plan. By using the following best practices, you can help maximize the ROI on your efforts.

1. Choose Charities That Your Customers Love

As with all marketing endeavors, you have to take your customer's interests and preferences into account. When it comes to community service and events, you should aim to participate in activities that will please your core customers.

2. Pick What Suits Your Business

You should always choose community projects that suit your business needs and complement your staff's skills. If your company values close relationships with customers, consider participating in car washes, carnivals, walk-a-thons or other projects in which your team can actively participate. If your staffers are strapped for time, a financial donation to an event or charity may be more appropriate.

3. Use All Branding Opportunities

Many corporate community involvement projects include opportunities for brand visibility. For example, sponsorship arrangements with local sports teams may allow you to put your logo on ballpark banners or players' jerseys, providing you with a new outlet to help spread your brand name to the world.

4. Budget for Charity Involvement

If you are considering corporate community involvement as part of your overall marketing plan, be sure to budget for it accordingly. Consider not only the financial commitments you are making, but also the cost of your employees' time, travel or supplies. According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, it may be best to set aside 10 percent or less of your overall marketing budget for these community endeavors, unless charitable involvement is your only source of local marketing.

5. Renew Your Sponsorship Annually

To keep the momentum going, consider making your sponsorship an annual event. If locals know that your company always sponsors the town's Little League team or underwrites the cost of the summer concert in the park, they will consider you to be an integral part of the community.

By participating in local acts of good will, you can help support causes that are near and dear to your heart while spreading awareness of your brand name and helping to improve your overall image.

Tags: Advertising Marketing Campaigns social responsibility Sales