It’s not just large corporations engaging in corporate social responsibility (CSR). In fact, many small businesses make giving back to the community an integral part of their business model - and in many cases, is a main reason such businesses continue to be ranked among the best places to work in their respective states. While engaging in CSR may not be a top priority for many companies, particularly small ones, research shows that businesses may receive external benefits from engaging in social good - such as increased purchasing behavior, higher customer satisfaction and higher employee retention, among others. And there are indications that people are looking for that CSR element in potential employers.

“No question, the trend is on fire,” said Lain Hensley, co-founder and chief operating officer of Odyssey Teams, which organizes corporate team-building exercises in which employees build prosthetic hands and bikes for those in need, of the trend of more smaller businesses giving back. “With the downturn and downsizing ... people are questioning sort of the heart and soul of the company. So when they see their company sort of struggling, treading water, but doing good in the community, they feel good about where they work.

“People want to see that their company is part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

Click through our slideshow to see how businesses are giving back through CSR.