It can be easy to use a lack of income or low profit margins as an excuse to keep your resources to yourself. “Who wouldn’t I give to others if I had the bank account of Bill Gates?” you might ask. “If I had a billion dollars, I’d be happy to share it.” In reality, if you were asked to give the same percentage of your income as Bill Gates and other millionaires like him, you wouldn’t have to dig very deeply into your wallet. In addition, the gift of time and knowledge is often more valuable than money itself.
Philanthropy has obvious community benefits. Helping those in need makes everyone involved better. The act of giving leads to proven physiological changes. MRI scans have shown that the act of giving releases Dopamine, otherwise known as the “feel good neurotransmitter.” In addition to making you feel good, however, philanthropy can have a positive influence on your entire company, especially if you are a new start-up. The areas of your business that can be affected are:
As mentioned, helping others makes people feel good. The type of philanthropy doesn’t matter. Whether team members are giving of their time or their money, it is an act that makes them feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves.
Working towards a common goal can aid in team building, which can have a long-term impact on your company. A business can segment employees simply because of the different jobs they hold. By creating a sense of team across the entire company, employees feel respected and supported. When a secretary works hand-in-hand with the CEO, a sense of community is created.
People are increasingly interested in working for companies that share their same values. Millennials especially are looking for careers with companies that can see the big picture. By taking responsibility for improving the community, a company is showing potential employees that they are not ultra-focused on profits. Companies need to sell themselves to potential employees if they are going to attract the best of the best. Being able to point to your philanthropic efforts can be the final act that tips the scales in your favor.
Brand Image and Name Recognition
Nobody likes a company that appears to value profit over anything else. When community members (who are all potential customers) see a company sharing their resources, they form a positive impression of that company. Positive impressions and name recognition are the things that bring people through the doors. People work very hard for their money and therefore value where their dollars are going. All things being equal, a customer is likely to migrate to a company they recognize and respect. In many ways, this kind of exposure is worth more than a well-financed advertising campaign.
A business does not exist in a vacuum. The most successful are the ones that become a part of the community around them. Forming the type of relationships that lead to long-term and mutually advantageous partnerships are another by-product of philanthropy. Once again, people want to feel a part of something, and that includes the community around them.
One doesn’t need to be Bill or Melinda Gates in order to affect change and improvement. By becoming an active member of the community, businesses can benefit themselves in many ways. Ask yourself what you can do for the person next to you, for a service organization in your community. The answer may not be as difficult or financially draining as you may think. Beyond that, however, your business will benefit in ways you never imagined.