The Business of Philanthropy
Despite the heavy commercialization of Christmas, many businesses use this holiday to help the less fortunate in the society, ensuring that at least one day of their lives is filled with food and fellowship.
But after the Christmas excitement has faded, what part does charity play in the other eleven months of the year?
Is it possible for entrepreneurs to incorporate good deeds as an integral part of their business strategy?
It could be argued that a charitable focus is in direct contrast to the prevailing concept of the free market economy- one that is built on greed and self-interest to promote wealth.
The reality is that many of the world’s most successful corporations are based on a solid tradition of philanthropy. Wikipedia defines philanthropy as “the act of donating money, goods, time or effort to support a charitable cause, usually over an extended period of time and in regard to a defined objective.”
Over the years, entrepreneurs with a charitable focus have greatly helped to improve the world:
– American steel mogul Andrew Carnegie diverted much of his wealth to fund libraries, schools and universities worldwide.
– Billionaire investor Warren Buffet gave away most of his immense fortune to the Gates Foundation, founded by Bill Gates, which funds global health and education programmes.
– Locally, the charitable efforts of philanthropists such as Michael Lee Chin and Ferdinand Mahfood have changes the lives of many ordinary Jamaicans.
How can the average entrepreneur incorporate a philanthropic philosophy in business?
Follow the 10% Rule
“Over the years I have found that many of the richest people in the world began their lives with the habit of tithing.” – Robert Kiyosaki
The formula of giving back ten per cent of your earnings to charity is called tithing. In the entrepreneurial world, whether tithing is done for religious purposes or not, the benefit is the same. There is a universal law that works to reward those who make a consistent practice of donating to worthwhile causes. I have found that the act of giving without seeking something in return has unleashed good fortune in both my personal and professional life.
Create goodwill for your company
“There can be little doubt that a certain amount of corporate philanthropy is simply good business and works for the long-term benefit of the investors.” – John Mackey
Businesses can profit from establishing foundations which are allowed to focus on altruistic pursuits instead of making profit for the shareholders. In deciding where to give back, it makes good business sense to contribute to those who support you. The Digicel Foundation has created tremendous goodwill for its parent company by helping to develop Jamaican communities, by building and equipping educational and social centres, and supporting local projects.
Establish a more profitable society
“Is the rich world aware of how four billion of the six billion live? If we were aware, we would want to help out; we’d want to get involved.” – Bill Gates
What if more profitable businesses focused on advancing the lives of the least fortunate among us, wouldn’t that help to improve the market place for all of us? What if more entrepreneurs concentrated on developing neighbouring communities, providing sustainable solutions for education, fostering job creation, and helping to change the mindset from poverty thinking to prosperity thinking, what kind of society would we create?
(c) Cherryl Hanson Simpson
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