Senior Writer and Editor, Strategic Communications, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
December 14, 2022
This quarter, the MetLife and U.S. Chamber Small Business Index asked small business owners about how active they are in community engagement. Despite lingering economic concerns, most small businesses give back. In fact, eight in ten (80%) say that their business has a clearly defined mission that includes giving back to their local community.
The survey finds that small businesses not only say that businesses should give back, but also that the majority have taken action to give back to their communities in the past year. Overall, 91% of small businesses believe that businesses should give back to their local communities.
Popular Ways of Giving Back
Ninety-three percent say they have taken at least one of the specific actions the survey listed. When asked about how they engage with their community in the past year, here are small businesses’ most popular answers:
- 70% have encouraged employees to shop at local small businesses.
- 66% have donated to local charities over the past year.
- 64% say they sponsored or donated goods/services to local events.
- 56% say they offered discounts to certain groups within the community, like teachers or veterans.
When asked about the importance of specific individual community engagement activities, most small businesses say each one is important. However, there is a gap between the proportion of small businesses that say each community engagement activity asked about is important and those that have done each in the past year.
Actions that are seen as most important—like encouraging employees to shop small, donating to local charities, or sponsoring goods/services to local events—are also the actions that business owners most often report implementing over the past year.
Gen Z and Millennial-Owned Businesses More Likely to Give Back
Small businesses run by Gen Zers or millennials are more likely than those run by baby boomers to say they have taken action to engage with their community in the past year. For example, while about two in five small businesses run by Gen Zers or millennials (43%) say they have offered companywide day(s) of service, only about three in ten (32%) run by baby boomers say the same.
Businesses run by Gen Zers or millennials are also more likely to strongly agree that small businesses should give back, in general.
Larger and Women-Owned Small Businesses More Likely to Offer Community Support The smallest small businesses (those with 0-4 employees) are less likely than those with more employees to say they have taken most of the community-based actions asked about in the survey over the past year.
Similarly, male-owned small businesses are less likely than female-owned small businesses to say they have donated to local charities (62% vs. 73%, respectively) or have sponsored or donated goods or services to local events (61% vs. 70%, respectively).
A Crucial Holiday Season
The quarterly U.S. Chamber and MetLife Small Business Index, which surveys small business owners on their perspectives of the local and national economy, stayed steady this quarter. The Index score of 62.1 matches last quarter’s score exactly, which marked the largest quarterly drop since the Index plummeted at the start of the pandemic.
However, the survey also reveals this holiday season is critical for small businesses’ finances. Eight in ten (79%) say the holiday season is important for their overall profit, up from 70% who said the same last year.
This is particularly true for small businesses in retail, where nine in ten (91%) say the upcoming holiday season is important to their overall profit, and over half (55%) say it is very important.
Inflation Still a Top Worry
At the same time, inflation remains a top concern for all small businesses. More than half (53%) of small businesses now say inflation is the biggest challenge for small business owners, a 30-percentage point increase from this time last year. Roughly four in five (83%) say rising prices have had a significant impact on their business this year.
Seven in ten (69%) small businesses say they are raising prices in response to inflation this holiday season. Meanwhile, 61% report expecting less revenue than usual this holiday season because of inflation.
The Q4 2022 survey was conducted between October 11-27, 2022. For more findings from this quarter, and to explore and browse years of small business data, visit: https://www.uschamber.com/sbindex/.
About the authors
Thaddeus is a senior writer and editor with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's strategic communications team.