Whether you have a lot to spare, a little extra, or need to hang on to every penny, there’s many ways to support your local community during the COVID-19 global crisis. Here are just a few ideas to get things rolling.
Make the most of your auto-response message.
Here’s an idea that won’t cost you a dime, but will bring value to your virtual community – those with whom you come into digital contact.
Before you step away from the computer or your phone for an extended period of time (or even just for a weekend), turn on your auto-response feature. Instead of just using the standard message, create a masterpiece that will deliver more than just a promise to respond later. You can include links to subscribe to your favorite newsletter or podcast. Insert a short inspirational video or add your favorite quote. Add a discount code to a fantastic product available online (bonus points if the product comes from a locally-owned small business). The options are endless. Flex your creative muscles and bring joy to the inboxes of all your contacts while they patiently await your reply.
This concept can also be applied to your email signature. Update it once a week to keep things fresh and exciting. As a result, you might even inspire others to do the same. Case in point: we have Spirit Your Life – Alexandra Franzen to thank for this idea.
Follow this link for some hilarious and heartwarming examples to get your creative juices flowing: https://blog.hubspot.com/…/hilarious-out-of-office-email-au…
Support a locally-owned restaurant
Some people may not realize that “chain” restaurants are quite often a locally-owned and operated franchise. Yes, the menu looks the same across the nation, but the owners, manager, investors, and employees are certainly local. Chances are, most of the sourced ingredients are local as well. That means the “chain” sandwich shop down the street from your house supports a whole lot of families in your community. Don’t write them off as corporate-owned before checking on how the business is set up. When it doubt, look it up! Google knows the answer.
For free: Make a post about your favorite meal at your favorite locally-owned restaurant. Send their customer service email a quick note and let them know how much you love their food and appreciate their hard work. Write fantastic reviews for the restaurant on all their profiles (Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc…). It helps more than you know.
For a small investment: Are they open for takeout or delivery? Make an order and leave a super generous tip. Even better, purchase virtual gift cards to the restaurant for a few friends and encourage them to try the [insert your favorite dish here]. When you deliver the virtual gift card via email, ask your friends to pay it forward. Who knows what kind of chain reaction you might start!
Help a local Yoga Studio stay afloat.
Yoga, it does a body good. It’s a great workout, it can improve your sleep and your posture, and can help you develop physical and mental strength. Everyone agrees that the benefits are plentiful. Wellness and group exercise facilities will be some of the hardest hit during stay-at-home orders and the recession that follows. Why? Because people can exercise at home or in the park if they’re already well-acquainted with the positions. Anyone can watch a guided yoga session on most streaming services and attempt to follow along. But nothing beats the one-on-one attention an in-person instructor can give you. They’ll spend the session making sure you are posing and breathing correctly while they lead you through each movement. Yoga studios employ local experts who have dedicated their lives to this discipline and to helping others reach their full potential safely.
For $15 or less: Plan a “yoga party” with your friends or co-workers as something fun to look forward to. No need to set a date, just pick a local yoga studio and encourage everyone to buy a future class pass for themselves right now. You can create a theme, plan your post-workout brunch location, and have fun modeling your yoga pants via skype before the real party even happens.
With a larger investment: Sponsor the entire yoga class yourself! Buy 8 – 20 future spots right now, and invite friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers (anyone, really) to join you once the studio reopens.
Show generosity towards a local artist.
Artists bring beauty into our world. They look at things differently and allow us to see ourselves differently. They even inspire us to be more creative. We could all use a little more of “that” at a time like “this.”
If you don’t already have a favorite local artist, you can spend a few minutes searching for one in your area on Google, Facebook, Yelp, or by using the awesome database on ArtLifting.
Now that you’ve found your art-soulmate, here’s how you can support them during tough times:
Zero dollar options: Make a post-of-praise showing off their work, share their website or profile where others can connect, or send them a message telling them how much their art means to you.
Just a couple dollars option: Do they sell postcards of their prints online? Grab a few and use them to write little notes to someone out-of-state who hasn’t heard from you in a while.
Lots of extra dollars option: If you have the means, buy your favorite piece. It’ll brighten your home for years to come and help your artist continue to bring their unique light into the world.
Support small businesses online.
By now the world is familiar with Etsy and other digital marketplaces that focus on bespoke handmade items. These platforms are fantastic for truly custom items. As a result, the businesses usually deal with jewelry, art, gifts, and other non-essential goods (non-essential in the sense that they aren’t required for everyday survival – we understand that art is super important).
Did you know that half of all the items sold on Amazon come from small and medium businesses, too? That could look like a family-owned, handed-down through the generations beekeeping operation that successfully adapted to the digital age by selling honey online. It could also look like a humble startup, perhaps a brand that makes shoes from recycled plastic water bottles, created by a young entrepreneur from your hometown. There’s an entire section dedicated to these type of operations right on Amazon’s shopping platform.
Buying from small businesses through Amazon is a great way to help on a global scale, and is an exceptionally easy transition if you’re already shopping online. These stores need your business right now, because a government bailout or stimulus package might not be enough to save them. We – human consumers – could be the only help they get during these tough times. Browse this specific list to make your Amazon purchases exclusively from small and medium storefronts.
Got an idea?
We’d love to hear what you are doing to support your local communities during these tough times. Leave a comment below and maybe you’ll inspire the next viral act of kindness!
Need some ideas to get yourself out of a funk? We’ve got you covered: 10 Ways to Combat Stress and Create a New Normal