When most people think of entrepreneurs and philanthropy, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates comes to mind, as do media moguls such as Oprah Winfrey or high-earning superstars like Angelina Jolie. But whether you’re a solo-preneur barely making ends meet or managing a team of 20, there are plenty of ways you can leverage your business to make a real impact on your community, and they don’t have to involve an out-of-pocket donation.
Here are a three easy ways you can incorporate philanthropy into your business model.
1. Leverage Your Time for Others
You already know that as an entrepreneur, time is money, and the same goes for your team. So, if you don’t have the funds to donate to your favorite charity, trade your company’s time for a worthy cause.
One way to do this is to set up a half-day one Friday afternoon, so you and your team can volunteer together at a local organization. Not only would it help out your community, but it’s also a great team-building exercise. You could even, as a team, pick a different organization every month or two and keep it going as a regular company outing. Your employees get a half-day off from the usual grind, and you ALL get to give back in a valuable way.
Another way to leverage your business hours is to hold a company-wide food or clothing drive, offering a half-day off in exchange for a certain donation. For instance, turkey drives are common around Thanksgiving, so if someone on your team brings one in, you could gift them with a half-day off for participating in a good cause. It’s a win-win!
2. Leverage Your Business Resources
Businesses often collect quite the amount of extra “junk,” which could be quite valuable to someone in need. Fax machines, extra phones, old computers, etc. might be out-of-date to you, but it could help a start-up nonprofit quite a bit—or a victim of domestic abuse who’s trying to get back on her feet.
Example: As I recently phased out my online Ali Boutique, my team sorted through our inventory and donated the extra clothing to local women’s organizations. They were thrilled to receive the quality goods we gifted them.
Another resource you always have available to give is your knowledge, which could prove to be quite valuable to a nonprofit or a community in need. For example, after getting to know Beauty Bus during my time on Secret Millionaire, I offered my business mentoring to help the organization set up a structure that can raise more money and spread awareness.
Step Up Women’s Network is another nonprofit I’ve worked with for years that connects professional women to underserved teenage girls in Los Angeles. The women act as mentors to the girls, helping them plan for their future and pursue their dreams.
Your experiences as a business owner and your specialized set of skills can likely be of value to someone in your community. Find an organization in your local area where you can help out.
3. Leverage Your Business Network
You always have the option of writing a check to your cause of choice. But with a little creativity, you can raise funds and get your customers involved in the cause. Talk about building community!
One way is to host a time-sensitive sale, with the specific mission to raise money for a cause. As a business owner, you can decide the percentage of profits you’d like to gift to the organization of your choice. I’ve seen some give 20%, others 50%, and there are many who’ll give 100%—it’s your call.
Another idea is to add a donation button on your website or ezine. Some bloggers have a button like this on their websites, but usually it’s so fans can send a personal donation to keep their favorite blog alive and running. (And many struggling bloggers will attest that they maintain their daily coffee habit with the trickle of funds that come in every month). That said, just imagine how effective that one little button could be for something as urgent as the tragedy in Japan, or for those still suffering in Haiti. A button like this is a great way to leverage your business, and your online traffic, to raise money for a noteworthy cause.© Copyright 2011 Ali Brown