Customers are the backbone of your business. Customers are more important than consultants, trainers, senior managers, and executives. Without paying customers, a business goes bankrupt.

Therefore, reaching as many people in your market as possible is paramount. However, building goodwill in people extends beyond the “here we are now — buy our stuff.” Nobody buys from businesses just because they exist.

People in this age — more than ever before  — want to do business with real people with integrity and purpose. Therefore, a low-cost way to ensure your small business reaches as many people as possible is by volunteering.

Small Business Benefits of Volunteering

This post will discuss several ways that will show you how your small business will benefit from volunteering.

1. Encourage Healthier Employees

From a scientific standpoint, when you’re happy and doing work you feel good about, the neurotransmitter dopamine is released in the brain. Dopamine improves your overall sense of well-being and increases your capacity to learn, be creative, and experience increased levels of vibrancy.

In order to feel good about yourselves, dopamine (a neurotransmitter) needs to be released into the brain. When this happens, you feel happier, are more willing to learn, and reduce stress more effectively. It has been scientifically proven that helping people makes you feel good.

And when you feel good about yourself, by association you’re more likely to take care of yourself by eating healthier and exercising more. (Or at least making the decision to track the results of your diets and workouts.)

Therefore, volunteering helps you feel good about making a difference in the world. Happy employees are a lot more pleasant to deal with and more productive .

2. Create Community Goodwill

How much money have you invested in advertising (online and offline)? Did you see the ROIs you were expecting? Have you beefed up on the myriad of marketing campaigns (such as direct mail, PPC, joint ventures, sales letters, radio spots, billboards, signposts, etc.)? Gets to be pretty expensive, doesn’t it?

Volunteering your business to organizations (or simply helping out around your hometown) is free advertising. Additionally, most people are bludgeoned to death by ads on a daily basis. So much so that they virtually ignore all of them. Giving back to your community gives you more exposure to those who may not be susceptible to traditional advertising.

3. Network With Other Volunteers

When you volunteer, you give yourself opportunities to meet business leaders, politicians and other entrepreneurs who can help you take your small business to the next level. How? Because volunteering is all about adopting a “give back” attitude — and you’re almost certain to meet someone who can benefit you — or someone who you can benefit. Either way, you’ve just made a new contact and potential friend!

Perhaps this contact can help your business in an area where you don’t have the resources, time (or will). There really is no disadvantage to networking — regardless of which sector you’re in. Volunteering is a great way to jumpstart your networking skills.

As a volunteer, you are entering the service industry. Giving your time, effort and energy to organizations with the goal of recruiting people for your business is shady and unethical. Howeverif you come across someone whose talents are a match for your company, there is no harm in engaging with them.

The main reason volunteering helps your business is this: it reinforces solidarity and camaraderie amongst your employees who choose to volunteer their time. Let’s say your business is sponsoring a charitable cause over the weekend, and workers are encouraged (but not required) to donate their time. The workers who choose to go and help out will feel a bond as strong as sharing a drink together at the pub.

4. Generate More Publicity

Chances are, your local media outlets are going to catch wind of local events happening throughout the community. Those media outlets will give you great coverage — and give you exposure to an audience who may have never heard of your small business.

For example, if you’re a dentist and — once