With Thanksgiving approaching, we’re reminded of the goodness of giving to help the less fortunate by food banks, clothes for the needy, and many other worthy charitable organizations.

And just a bit later, we’ll see bell-ringers on street corners collecting donations for their organizations’ charitable programs. Giving back to the community is not only good for the community, it’s good for the soul—and it can help grow your practice, according to Chuck McCabe, president of Peoples Income Tax and The Income Tax School.

“Outside of preparing taxes and participating in business networking organizations, how involved are you in your community?” he asks. “While those are fine for relationship building, they don’t count as giving back to the community.”

“One of the advantages a local practitioner has over a national franchise is that it can market to the community as a local business owner,” he said. “So why not embrace your local roots by digging in and giving back to the community that you live and work in? Giving back is not just a good thing to do, it can help your business a great deal.”

Here are some of McCabe’s suggestions on ways of giving back:

• Offering your services free of charge to an underserved population in your community.

• Donating to a local charity that is connected to your company or team.

• Volunteering your time or expertise.

• Mentoring small business owners and startups.

“Business owners who are involved in their local community earn the respect and backing of the very community they give back to,” McCabe said. “Not only do you build strong relationships with the people you are giving back to, you begin meeting and building relationships with other leaders in the community who share the same passion for that cause or organization as you do. When you give to the community, you get back respect and loyalty. People within the community tend to back and support businesses that support the community.”

“When community members take ownership of their community, it helps to improve the community and the lives of people living within the community,” McCabe said. “Whether it’s helping raise funds for a park or helping people directly within the community, you are making your community a better place to live.”

Making community stewardship a part of your culture helps improve your work environment, he suggested. “Volunteerism gives employees a purpose and takes them away from the daily grind to remind them of issues that are important,” McCabe said. He quoted a study by the University of Exeter that found volunteers had a 22 percent lower mortality rate than non-volunteers, and they also had higher levels of self-esteem and happiness. Moreover, it improves morale and helps develop more respect for the company and its leaders. Volunteering also creates cohesion between everyone in the company as they work together to enrich the community.

“Getting involved in community events is also a way to meet people and build relationships outside of typical networking events,” McCabe observed. “And it is also a way to get local press coverage of your business. If you plan to host an event to raise money for or build awareness around a cause or a charity, make sure your local media outlets know about it. It makes a great story.”

And of course, the main reason to give back to your community? “It’s just the right thing to do,” McCabe said.

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