Helping others is a core human personality trait and throughout history there are countless examples of those who have attempted to improve the lives of those less fortunate. Defining that action as ‘philanthropy’ conjures up ideas of multi-billionaires pumping cash into projects to benefit from tax breaks – but there are many ways to help needy causes and you don’t have to be one of the mega rich to become a philanthropist.
If you do have lots of money then you should perhaps feel it is your obligation to help others, but there are many ways to achieve that. So, how is it best to proceed?
If you are the owner of a business you could have your entire company involved. That will not only help the organisations you have chosen but will also foster a philanthropic feeling among your employees. It’s not so much that you are giving their money to charity, more that you are creating a feeling of wanting to help needy others.
It doesn’t matter where in the world you are – or where the people you are trying to help are located. Philanthropists have increasingly looked online to further their causes. This could be in the form of a crowd funding site, or even just bringing people together online to discover how they can do their bit to help others.
Doing, not saying
Although you will be involved in philanthropy for the right reasons, you will also realise that it doesn’t hurt your business to be seen to be helping with good causes. But the important point here is that you are doing something and not just saying you will help. Potential followers and customers of your business will be disillusioned if it seems you are just saying you are helping to improve the image of your business and not actually following through on your promises.
Alternatives to cash
This is related to the ‘doing, not saying’ advice. You don’t have to be donating thousands of pounds to become a philanthropist, and you don’t even have to donate money at all. A major component of helping is through your actions, so you can help in any way that seems to work. If your business is involved in building websites then you could build a website for a charity free of charge. You can donate your skills and expertise just as much as you can donate money.
As much as partnering with big name charities may get your business – or yourself – great exposure, you could make a huge contribution to those needing help in your local area. By assisting local organisations – either financially or physically – you will be really investing in your community. No matter how large your business is, the people living near you are the ones who will be able to see how your philanthropy is helping people directly.
Being able to give back to communities on your company’s doorstep, or around the world, is a vastly rewarding thing to do and can positively highlight your name and brand. Although you shouldn’t think about your brand above anything else it is always good to be associated with philanthropy.
There are many business professionals like Bill Gates who are well-known for their philanthropic nature. The creator of Microsoft has set up a foundation that helps with healthcare and poverty programmes in third-world countries.
Businessman Evangelos Marinakis has helped with many organisations in his native Greece through his philanthropy and uses his wealth to help others. As well as assisting several Greek children’s charities, he has also involved some of his businesses in philanthropic ventures such as arranging for the UNICEF logo to be displayed on the shirts of the Olympiacos football team.
Start small, aim high
Whatever organisations you decide to become involved with, philanthropy is an intensely rewarding activity – giving you and your business the personal satisfaction of using your skills, knowledge or money to help people in need of assistance.
Philanthropy does not just have to be a lump sum of cash donated to some random charity – and nor should it be. Being able to take the time to research who could benefit most from your help and then following through on an extended programme can enrich everyone involved and show that business is not just all about making money.