SurePayroll Insights Survey: Economy Woes Squeeze Small Business Charity

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A recent survey by online payroll service SurePayroll suggests that while giving back to the community ranks high on the priority list of most small business employers, the current state of the economy is proving to be a significant barrier.

It's clear that small business owners are uneasy about profitability and feel they have to cut out spending, even on issues they consider important and beneficial to business such as giving back to the community.

A recent survey by online payroll service SurePayroll suggests that while giving back to the community ranks high on the priority list of most small business employers, the current state of the economy is proving to be a significant barrier.

According to the survey, more than half (55 percent) of small business mission statements reflect social priorities -- such as contributing toward education and environmental issues -- and most participate by giving cash and product donations, as well as employee time to participate in projects.

"While the effects of small business contributions might not always seem obvious, the reality is that most communities would noticeably suffer without the help," says SurePayroll President Michael Alter.

However, the survey also shows that many small business owners are limiting community contributions, fearing that the current state of the economy is necessitating cost-cutting wherever possible.

Those who do not make significant contributions to their community identified lack of growth and profitability issues as the main obstacle. Nearly all (95 percent) said they would likely implement noticeable changes designed to give back to the community if they could do so without sacrificing the profitability of their business.

A small business survey reported by Reuters last month found that 71 percent of small business owners are worried about the current state of the economy, something Alter says is making community contributions less possible.

"The survey shows that since just last year, 28 percent more small business owners believe the economy is in worse shape than it has been in a while," says Alter. "It's clear that small business owners are uneasy about profitability and feel they have to cut out spending, even on issues they consider important and beneficial to business such as giving back to the community."

Although many small business owners indicated that they actively support their communities in at least one way, most said they would do even more if economic conditions were better.

"Small business entrepreneurs are often the ones who have formed businesses and established mission statements out of a need they have observed in their communities," said one business owner. "However, their growth and profitability are typically far less than large corporations, limiting their ability to meet social and community needs and still maintain a profit."

In addition to the economy, small business owners cited intensive job responsibilities as a challenge to community contribution. When asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement, "I would like to give back more to the community and the world, but am too busy running my business," more than half agreed.

"It's easy for large corporations to give back to their communities because they often have budgets and staff members designated for this purpose, but it's usually not so easy for small businesses, which are typically more sensitive to the effects of an unpredictable economy and more limited in time and resources," says Alter. "Even so, it's important for business owners to remember the business benefit. Because they usually interact directly with community members on a daily basis, an active role can work wonders for strengthening relationships and building trust with clients."

In fact, 6 in 10 respondents felt that beneficial customer reaction -- and in turn, better business -- would be noticeable if their social passions became a more visible aspect of their establishment.

"Our community involvement with 'green' or sustainability issues and programs has positively impacted our income," added one small business owner.

Many respondents also felt giving back to the community has an impact on attracting talent. 4 in 10 said that if they were able to contribute more to the community they would likely be able to hire and retain quality employees.

About SurePayroll:
Voted Editor's Choice for best payroll service] by PC Magazine, a Top 100 Product by Accounting Today and finalist in the Best Customer Care and Best Product categories of the 2008 American Business Awards, SurePayroll is America's largest full-service online payroll service and honoree of the of the Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Businesses award two years in a row.

SurePayroll is passionate about small businesses and their payroll.The company is dedicated to providing an extremely friendly and simple payroll experience -- at a price small business owners can afford.

In addition to its payroll and ClickFREETM tax file and pay service -- which allows a user to complete the entire payroll process in minutes -- SurePayroll offers a suite of online services designed specifically for small business, including HR and compliance resources, 401(k) retirement solutions, health insurance and workers' compensation products.

SurePayroll also offers a private-label and co-branded payroll service to accountants and banking partners to offer payroll processing to their small business clients.

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FRANK KROLICKI
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