Supporting your local community is a positive thing. It builds relationships, strengthens the local economy, and makes your neighborhood a happier and healthier place. At Workers Credit Union, we love supporting our neighbors and encourage you to do the same!
One of the best ways to support your surrounding community is how you chose to spend your money. The money you spend in your community feeds into the local economy instead of leaving it. This means more local business owners, and more tax dollars staying in the community. Shop at local farmers’ markets, independent coffee shops, and restaurants over national chains. Buy art and gifts from local vendors. These are all simple ways to support your local economy.
But what if you don’t have the extra cash to contribute to your favorite neighborhood businesses? What if the bulk of your spending is already local? Good news—there are a few creative ways that you can boost your local economy without spending a single cent.
1. Show your support online
There are many ways to show your local businesses some love by sharing them with your friends and family. A little effort on your part can go a long way in making your local businesses more discoverable online.
- Never underestimate the power of a positive endorsement. Take five minutes to write a thoughtful review on Google, Facebook, Yelp, and/or TripAdvisor.
- Follow local businesses on social media and engage with their posts.
- Post a Facebook check-in status the next time you visit your favorite neighborhood hangout.
- Make a point of tagging local businesses in your pictures on Facebook and Instagram.
- If you’re a photographer, either by hobby or profession, do a photoshoot at the local hangout or coffee shop. Get shots of the exterior, interior, the product and the décor. Show off the space by submitting your photos to an online review site.
2. Attend a community event
Your presence can make a difference at community events—even if you don’t spend any money. Public events often rely on sponsorships. Potential sponsors look at past attendance to determine if an event is worth their investment. This means that you can support local events simply by showing up! Plus, community events often provide some form of free entertainment and giveaways.
3. Do your banking at a credit union
This tip is about where you keep your money and not where you spend it! Your choice of financial institution can have a significant impact on your local economy. As financial co-operatives, credit unions have community development built into their bottom line. Credit unions have a commitment to give back to the communities they serve. Read more about how credit unions are different from banks.
4. Find a new purpose for your old stuff
Declutter your space and do some good at the same time. Remember that spring cleaning doesn’t have to stop at your closet (and it doesn’t only have to be in the spring!). Books, electronics, sports equipment, and children’s toys, are all desired items. Here’s how you can get rid of your gently used items without throwing them in the landfill:
- Donate things you no longer need to a local charity thrift store.
- Keep your eye out for clothing or book drives in your neighborhood.
- Many communities have started “town-wide” yard sales where you can setup shop on your own front yard and the town promotes the event. Often times you can choose to donate your items to the host organization so they can sell the items and keep the profit.
5. Share your skills
Donating your time and sharing your expertise is a valuable way to give back to your community. Consider these outlets:
- Reach out to a local organization and see if there are any volunteer opportunities available. Think about causes close to your heart, then research and inquire with local organizations that support the same values. Some places to start:
- Veterans centers
- Nursing homes & senior centers
- Animal shelters
- Youth centers
- Food pantries
- Homeless shelters
- State and national parks
- Offer to lead a class or workshop in a topic you’re knowledgeable about. Practical topics – such as computer and smartphone skills – are often in high demand. Libraries often look for such volunteers. To earn a small stipend, community colleges often hire professionals to teach non-credit courses at night or on the weekends. By sharing your talents, you can contribute to others’ successes, which feeds back into the local economy.
You can do your part without spending more money. You will be happier and so will your community! If you do have some extra cash to spend, don’t forget that November 30, 2019 is Small Business Saturday. Shop at local businesses for holiday sales and fun events. And remember, just showing up and checking out what your local businesses have to offer is just as appreciated.
A special thank you to our neighbor Strong Style Coffee in Fitchburg, MA for allowing us to photograph in their local shop. The featured image for this post highlights Workers employee, Aaron L. enjoying his break (and a coffee) at Strong Style.