By Charissa Struble

Sometimes, your life purpose becomes very clear to you when you least expect it. That was the case with Eric Pope, founder of Smile Squared, when he and his wife took a humanitarian trip to Central America. It was there he learned just how challenging it was for children, in particular, to receive proper dental care services.

What he gained from the experience was a business idea that had the potential to change the world. His company produces eco-friendly, bamboo-handled toothbrushes, but that’s not what is remarkable. In addition to being sustainable and BPA-free, Smile Squared toothbrushes are part of something even bigger.

The company’s “Buy One, Give One” model allows customers to make a real difference with their purchases. For every toothbrush that is sold, one is given to a child in need. This business model has grown in popularity throughout the years and has helped add to the success of companies like TOMS and Warby Parker. People love the idea of giving to those in need simply by purchasing everyday household items, footwear, and eyeglasses.

If you love the idea of giving back to the community, you can follow in Smile Squared’s footsteps by adopting a “Buy One, Give One” model or you can do one of the following four things to help your small business give back to the community.

Get your employees to volunteer.

There are a number of different ways for your business to play a role in charitable giving. One of the easiest and most gratifying involves volunteering time and talent. People don’t need to be wealthy to make a difference in the world. All they need to possess is the willingness to lend a helping hand. U.S. Bank employees are paid for up to 16 hours of volunteer service each year which is similar to what Carlyle Group, PNC, and Charles Schwab offers as part of their employee benefits packages. Consider encouraging and rewarding volunteerism in the workplace.

Keep a collection box by the door.

Everyone has visited a store or business that gives to charity. Think about your last trip to the supermarket at Christmas time. Were you given the option to donate a bag of groceries for a needy family in your community? What about adding a dollar or two to your grocery bill at the cash register? You can apply this same type of approach with your own business by keeping a collection box by the door and asking for donations at the register. Every little bit helps those in need.

Sponsor a sports team.

This suggestion sounds like a no-brainer but it has the power to transform your community. Not only do you provide an outlet for young people to excel, you also give parents and spectators a meaningful activity to participate in and look forward to. Your community can show their support by attending games and purchasing team merchandise from you. All monies raised from the sell of t-shirts and hats can be used to pay for new equipment, away games, transportation, and accommodations.

Donate goods and services.

Schools and charities will approach you with requests from time to time. Whenever possible, make a contribution in the form of goods or services to proms, silent auctions, and other fundraisers. Not only will you benefit from the added exposure, you’ll be helping fund someone else’s dreams or taking care of their day-to-day living expenses with your donation.

Charitable donations are tax-deductible and rich in the sense that you improve the quality and conditions of the community you live and work in.  If you’re looking for ways to give back as a business and need additional suggestions, visit  You’ll see listings for local charities you can get involved with.