Throughout my years in the telecom industry, I attended hundreds of workshops, seminars, keynote speeches, and self-help courses designed to help business owners grow their companies and become leaders in the industry or a local market. Some of those companies grew with moderate success, and some failed because of lack of staff or budget. But those that succeeded all had something in common—they were giving back to the community or were involved with charities.
I did the same throughout the years while growing my previous (and very successful) business. And here’s my advice to those of you who want to start doing the same but are concerned about lack of resources for donation.
Ask yourself what philanthropy looks like. It doesn’t necessarily have to be money—you can donate time, your expertise, or even materials. A good way to start is to create a regular “give back to the community” day for your team and volunteer for a local organization together.
Food drives, homeless shelters, community Red Cross, cancer pledges, walk-a-thon/fun runs, local veteran associations such as the American Legion, various local church groups. These and many other organizations exist in every town and all of them need help and support. Find the cause that resonates most with you and your team. Or find the organizations that may benefit from your expertise, if that’s the preferred way for you to give back to the community.
Here are a few examples from my past career that have brought me personal satisfaction:
- Battered Women’s Shelter. The shelter was looking for a better way to communicate emergency responses, so we donated a small hosted phone system for 5 users with all the alert and call routing features to cell phones. Cost was less than $100.00 per month, but to them, it was priceless and lifesaving.
- Local Food Bank. Once a month, we acquired groceries to feed a family of 4 for an entire month. The cost was actually less than $250.00 since we were getting things in bulk. In the end, we ended up feeding 4 new families a month.
You can also support national and international organizations.
- St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. We started with a monthly, automatic $100.00 donation. Later, we asked our employees if they would like to join a company effort with a personal contribution. Nineteen of them signed up for an automatic $20.00 donation per month as well.
- Life Through Water. Children’s hospital contacted us about how 3 out of 10 children in Africa were dying from waterborne illness due to lack of clean drinking water. So, once a year, we picked a village, drilled a water well, and then proceeded to install a water purification system with a pump. For a cost of $20,000, in 3 years we provided 5 villages with clean water.
You may argue that this level of charity requires a lot of money, and you’re right! But when you start small and provide help in proportion to resources, you still make big difference for those you help. And it’s true that everything you do returns to you tenfold. It is not a magic trick—it’s people who start spreading the word about you out of their gratitude and respect.
Call it good karma if you want, but it happened to my company and many others who did the same. People wanted to do business with us when they learned about our social responsibility. I can’t tell you how many times I was contacted, and when I asked how they came to us, the answer was always the same: “You were recommended.” We grew every year, and the more we grew, the more we helped. We ended up deciding to give 5% of our profits to charity per year.
I can’t tell you to become a philanthropist to grow your business. But I can tell you that I strongly believe that everything you give, comes back to you tenfold. Now, it’s your call.