Philanthropy was once considered a noble endeavour for the rich. The social market has shifted; the new generation are expecting businesses and corporations to be socially responsible and engaged.
Who Gives A Crap, sells toilet paper to fund developing world sewerage problems. They stepped into the consumer goods industry to gain market share from the big corporate giants, with the ultimate goal of syphoning funds into the NFP sector, while increasing the profile of the cause.
Thankyou Water has been able to persuade consumers and suppliers to switch from traditional brands because of their profits being used to provide clean water in developing countries and allied philanthropic and charitable causes as compared to traditional brands who are solely focused on maximising shareholder investment returns.
Melinda Gate’s mother persuaded Bill and Melinda in being philanthropic 20 years earlier, “To whom much is given, much is expected”, she said. Imagine if they had not listened to her.
As a success driven business builder, I had a personal experience that shifted my focus. I realised I was focused on monetary success, and this was no longer satisfying. This, as outlined in my book Enriched: Re-defining Wealth, caused me to have a huge paradigm shift. I wanted to build a life of significance; one focused on others, not myself. My challenge: How could my company become actively engaged with philanthropic opportunities?
While in Phuket for our company’s conference, our team were daily transported between the hotel and the conference venue. We saw great poverty, an extreme contrast to the luxury of our 5-star resort. I felt a deep conviction that we should be giving back to the community.
As the CEO, I shared my thoughts and our team came up with the idea of building an orphanage in Thailand that was run by a local NGO. In the space of an hour after launching our plan, we raised the funds to build the orphanage from our franchisees and staff; I was surprised by the significant acts of generosity that came from several of the most hard headed business people in our organisation.
Over a decade later, whenever we meet, their leading question is “How’s the orphanage going?” rather than how we grew a small business in Tasmania into a very successful Australia-wide firm.
If you embrace the practical power of giving, the personal and corporate rewards will astound you. Here is why giving will take your company to another level:
- Corporately unifies employees.
- Creates a culture of collaboration amongst the staff.
- Creates a corporate and individual purpose beyond themselves.
- Broadens people’s horizons and experiences creating personal growth.
- Gives employees a conversation starter in varied social settings, increasing connection with people around them.
- Exposure to the difficulties that developing countries face creates a sense of gratitude and realisation of the power they have to change the world.
- A business engaging with philanthropic activities will give it a leading edge to become an employer of choice.
Unfortunately in our western culture we have given away our personal responsibility to help those in need and expect the government to use our taxes to take on that responsibility.
Thankfully wealthy individuals like the Warren Buffets and Bill Gates are setting a great example. Andrew Forrest is leading the way in Australia. These business owners are pledging 90% of their wealth to needy causes around the world prior to dying. There is now a healthy global movement where other wealthy individuals have been challenged to do likewise. This is cascading down to everyday small businesses and people.
It begins with the heart of a leader to embrace the concept that to whom much is given, much is expected.
Three principles for giving …
- Align your philanthropic activity to your Life Purpose or Life Mission Statement.
What are you passionate about? What is happening locally or globally that make you angry? And others are not tackling sufficiently? What organisations exist that do good that you could help?
It isn’t enough to just have a business plan. Establish your Life Purpose, it then becomes clearer which opportunities to pursue.
- You will need to lead
Initially you will get opposition. Clarity, communication and passion for your cause are needed.
- Be prepared for change
Risk taking, uncertainty and adventure are all key things to embrace as you seek a life that is fulfilling and meaningful.
As children we’re encouraged to dream about how we can make the world a better place. It’s now time as adults to use our personal and corporate resources with a child-like attitude of sharing, to make a difference in the world. Why not start today?
John Sikkema is a Philanthropist, Thought Leader and Entrepreneur. Executive Chairman of Halftime Australia, inspiring leaders to live their life purpose now. www.halftime.org.au