How to Make a Positive Social Impact with Your Online Business

“Oh! but he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!”

Ebenezer Scrooge was a shrewd businessman, but no one liked him. Would you want to shop at the store of an unpleasant, cruel man, or would you rather shop at a store owned by Scrooge’s generous nephew? When Scrooge finally caught the spirit of giving and reached out to aid his community, it made him more successful in life and probably financially as well. 

Though the Christmas holidays are over, it’s never too late to maintain that attitude of generosity. Consider the following ways your online business can make a positive social impact:


Donate a percentage of your profits to a charitable organization. 

Amazon uses AmazonSmile to allow customers to donate .5 percent of their purchases to organizations of their choosing. You can likewise make a positive social impact by choosing to donate some of your online business profits, and donating can be a permanent part of your brand (e.g., you always give 10 percent of your profit to a specific cause). 

By doing this, consumers will be more inclined to purchase from you because when they do, they are doing some good for the world as well as for themselves.


Use your social platform to speak out for a cause you believe in.

If you have a well-followed social platform, use it as a way to encourage others to do good. Discuss your favorite charities or invite others to join you in aiding the community. Social media is a way to reach thousands or even millions. Consider the impact the Ice Bucket Challenge had via social media. An amazing $115 million was raised to fight ALS, and awareness was increased. 

Encouraging positive social change through your social platforms allows you to do good and send a wholesome message about what your company stands for. 


Donate services or physical goods directly.

Rather than donating a percentage of your profit, you can donate your services or physical goods to an organization in need. TOMS sells high-priced shoes with a commitment to donate a pair to children in need internationally. You should always be looking for ways to help, especially when you have excess inventory or time. For instance, OUR (Operation Underground Railroad) hosts a yearly Christmas-event sale in Utah. Local businesses donate inventory, and people come and shop for the holidays. One hundred percent of the proceeds are given to OUR to help fight child trafficking. 

Participating in this event allows these businesses to show their products and services to hundreds of locals while simultaneously aiding children in need. Find a similar way to use your business to do good.

Be socially conscious about what your content endorses and where your goods come from.

Consider the message your brand sends through advertising and social media. Do you objectify women? Endorse violence? Be sure to create content that sells while recognizing the impact of media on others.

Also, be aware of the effect your company can have at every step of the creation and selling process. If you need to do damage, find a way to compensate for that damage. For instance, Tesla is opening a new gigafactory in Germany, which will require the destruction of massive amounts of forestry. However, Elon Musk, owner of Tesla, also donated $1 million to plant a million more trees elsewhere. While we can’t say for sure if this was meant to be a compensation, doing something similar can help you continue to make a positive social impact through your business as well as keep your company in a good light.

Host a fundraising event. 

You don’t have to make donating cash a permanent thing. You can also participate in local or national fundraising events. Give a large percentage on a particular day. Help local schools or clubs, charities, etc. While fundraising events aren’t generally associated with online businesses, they can be. Pick a day of significance and spread the word. A good option is #GivingTuesday, an international day of donating where you can offer to match the purchases of the previous week or day in donations to an organization.


Give perks to employees who do social good. 

One way for you to make a positive social impact is through your employees. If you encourage employees to do good in the community and world, your company makes an impact. State Farm is doing this with its current program, “100 Acts of Good.” For their hundredth anniversary, they are challenging each of their employees to do one hundred good things. So far, they have a board with over 165,000 good deeds where consumers can see the various good deeds performed by employees on their website. 

One way to encourage your employees to do good is by offering cash incentives, gift cards, or time off. If you don’t have employees via your online business, you can encourage customers to do good by offering them discounts or special deals. Doing so builds rapport and goodwill within your company and among your clients.


Consider your internal social impact.

Generally, people define social impact as the impact you have on society. But don’t forget about internal social impact. A Primer on Sustainable Business defines this impact: “The sustainable business’s social impact would include such items as the business’s practices and policies related to working conditions, diversity in hiring, opportunities for advancement for women and minorities, lack of discrimination, and the provision of affordable health care and other necessary benefits.”

If you do have employees, be sure to make a positive social impact from the inside out. Treating employees well creates longevity in employment and happy workers.

Ebenezer Scrooge was once a shrewd businessman but hated by all. In this modern world, there are too many options for people to take business elsewhere if consumers feel you are only about profiting off them. Being socially aware generates customer satisfaction, allows for great tax write-offs, and makes for a better world. 

As we move into 2020, it’s time to skip being a scrooge and cultivate this kind attitude when it comes to your business:  “And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.”

Remember these ways to make a positive social impact:

  • Commit to donating a percentage of your profits to a charity.
  • Use your social-media presence to encourage positive change. 
  • Find ways to use your business to do good.
  • Know the good and harm that comes from your business and find ways to rectify any harm.
  • Participate in fundraising events.
  • Encourage your employees to do good, and treat your employees well, if you have them.

What has your online business done to create a positive social impact? Have you seen success with any of these methods? If you liked this post, please follow us on Facebook for more great content. You can also find us on Twitter and Instagram.

Categories: How To Marketing
About Michelle Carpenter

Amy Michelle Carpenter co-owns a 3D printing business called STEM Garage. She is a national blogger, a YA editor, and a professional marketer. She also teaches children in China at 4AM in the morning because she thinks its fun.

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