Confessions of a philanthropist and business man
Why doing good is good for business
I must confess: I enjoy doing good. I have discovered as both an avid businessman and philanthropist that for me the difference between doing good business and doing good is negligible.
You only have to look at the millennial generation to see this playing out. Millennials are a group that have been defined not by money, but by their motivation to make a difference. When we consider they’re due to make-up a huge 75 per cent of the workforce by 2025, we must consider that it’s time that businesses started to listen up a little more?
With a growing portion of the workforce willing to take a pay cut to find work that matches their values, what good business looks like surely has to fall in line. It’s not just millennials that value the feel-good factor of business either. Recent research conducted by the Greg Secker Foundation, has found that more than two in five of us (41 per cent) believe UK businesses should be doing more for charities. But, what does ‘doing more’ mean for business?
Our study showed that if a business gives 5 per cent of its annual profits to charity, nearly a fifth of us Brits are more likely to recommended that business to friends and family, or use it over a competitor (20 per cent agree with this). Despite these facts, figures today continue to show that businesses are just not giving back and that the value of doing so has yet to be recognised. This is typically because social responsibility is not a core business focus over the profit margin.
In reality, when pitted against the bottom line, charity – or giving back to the community – loses out. Particularly in harsher economic times, or especially for small businesses, giving back is unfortunately what’s most likely to be pushed down the priority list. I would argue this is because businesses are underestimating the monetary benefits philanthropy can generate, that being quite simply: a more dedicated workforce, better talent, and improved corporate reputation to name just a few.
Even for businesses just starting out the importance of giving back should be considered and acted upon. Reputation goes a long way in terms of social currency, by ensuring you’re putting your new business in the best possible light you are stimulating success and potential investment opportunities. Additionally, by fostering goodwill with your network of both existing and potential customers, you can work to ensure that there are people who believe in your business and what it stands for.
As a business owner, you have a responsibility. As a successful company – that has grown thanks to your workforce and customers – you have a duty to help the common good. Not only does this type of work enrich the quality of life of our global community, but importantly it improves your employees’ quality of life. The saying goes that every little helps, but it truly does. So, while giving 5 per cent might feel like a long shot for some organisations, you can still give and do good. For instance, Pledge 1% is a corporate philanthropy movement that encourages businesses to pledge 1 per cent of equality, product and employee time to their communities.
Beyond giving a portion of your profits, there are other ways to promote philanthropy:
· If you cannot give money, give time. Never underestimate the value of a charity day – for both the local community and as a team-building exercise for your staff. Try allocating at least one day a year for your employees to give back.
· Depending upon your line of business, you might be able to consider taking on one or two pro bono clients – charities or NGOs – that you support free of charge. These can often make great case studies too, so helps give back to the business simultaneously.
· Consider sponsoring a charity event. Not only does this give you great publicity, but also it’s an ideal opportunity to network with like-minded individuals.
To all my burgeoning philanthropists, here’s hoping that you will soon have a similar confession to make.
Great advice from Greg Secker, founder of the Greg Secker Foundation.