Last time we chatted about my history with giving back in my business and how it has helped me not only personally but professionally. To say it was a game changer would be an understatement, especially in my personal life. The perks of helping my business was an add on.
So where do we start? You are sitting there reading this, you have a heart to serve (presumably) and you have a business. How do we enmesh the two. How do you grow a business with heart?
First off I will say that you have to be careful. Get involved with a cause or organization that makes your heart sing. The more authentic and real you are in your giving back, the more it resonates with people and the more you are invested. For instance, if you aren’t an animal person, don’t volunteer at the animal shelter just because you know they have a benefit dinner that may be good for your business. It may seem like a great idea at first but because your heart isn’t in it, it will start to reflect in your experience and, subsequently, your business.
The other thing to be careful of is being sporadic in your giving. Much like marketing, target your giving so its invested and intentional. You will do so much more by picking one or two things to really pour yourself into than 10 random things to dabble in. It also weakens your brand and purpose if you are known as the person who jumps on any bandwagon for a cause, people see through that.
So your first step is finding something to get involved in. I’m a big fan of grabbing a blank piece of paper and having a little brainstorming session. Write down what makes your heart hurt or maybe you have a story or past that lets you identify with a certain cause. Think about your clients, do they have a particular cause that they would identify with? Does a certain cause fit your branding more than another?
These are things to think through as you move to identify how to give back. For some it may be something they know right off. For example, missions have always been my heart, specifically international missions. Its what I know I should do in this life. Then there is a friend of mine who is a children and family photographer who loves kids and one of her
clients, a little boy, was diagnosed with cancer. So she now gives back solely to organizations that focus on the prevention of cancer, specifically in kids. It fits her brand, her love of kids, and it also is something with a personal story of one of her clients. Don’t be discouraged if you are reading this thinking that you don’t know what your cause is, just take the time to process it, I promise it will come.
After you have an idea of where you want to serve and give back, there is the question of how. How do you give back? How do you build a business with heart? And honestly, there is no one answer for this or even one thing you need to pick, it can be a combination of things. Again, grab a piece of paper and brainstorm. Get your ideas down and start by picking
even just one thing to do. That is how change begins, with one step.
One way to identify with a cause and participate in an ongoing way is to donate a certain percentage of your profit to an organization. This is done with many businesses with great benefit because consumers love businesses that support a cause. According to Jared Hughes, East Coast Major Gifts officer for Compassion and Choices, philanthropy may also help
your profits. “In a 2004 Cone Corporate Citizenship Study, 86 percent of Americans said they would likely switch to a similarly priced and quality brand that supported a good cause,” said Hughes. In the same study, 8 out of 10 Americans indicated company support of one or more causes raised their trust in the company. That is HUGE potential for your business!
There are more hands on ways to also be involved. Get out and do the work, volunteer, offer your services to an organization, donate to them, spread the word for them, host or be part of an event in your off season, sit on
the board of the organization, participate in a fundraiser or auction, partner with another company who also supports the cause. There are so many ways to be involved and give back.
Then the next step is to take your giving back public. Tell others your passion, don’t be shy that you are doing good work. Other people may want that opportunity too. Invite others to volunteer with you, blog about the organization, or your volunteer experience, put a giving back page or post on your blog or site. There is a reason people buy $60 pairs of Toms
shoes, because they know that purchase is changing the world in a small way.
So are you ready to give back and build a business with heart? Here are the steps we talked about:
1) Spend time looking at what area’s to give back in
2) Brainstorm different ways you can give back
3) Decide what your first step is.
4) Do that step
5) Share your experience
6) Repeat step 4 and 5.
Again, I can’t say how much giving back has impacted my life. It truly gives you a reason and a purpose. You can do amazing things without telling anyone, I don’t spread the word on everything I do, but think of it this way, we have been afforded an amazing chance of doing good and impacting more because of our businesses and those that we know, even on social media. It’s the butterfly effect. You never know how you doing something good can impact those around you to do that and more. That is priceless.
*Shannon is selling t-shirts to help fund her family’s trip to Haiti and the work they will do there. If you are interested in purchasing a shirt, go here.