Business. The main goal…the whole point of it is to turn a profit. Of course it is. Is that all? Well, if you want to feed your family, be independent, have the lifestyle of your choice, and build something that makes an impact, creating a big profit is a non-negotiable.
There’s a message out there today that we should do the thing that will make us a lot of money so we can become a millionaire and have the best of everything, and THEN we can use our money and our status to follow our passion and/or support charitable organizations and those in need. Because we’ve made a lot of money we can have a BIG impact.
Have we missed the boat here? Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with making a lot of money or being a millionaire. And many wealthy business owners have supported, in a big way, organizations that do social good and in some cases even started their own foundation or philanthropy. I applaud them. I thank them for doing their part. I’m glad they see the importance of giving back from what they’ve been blessed with.
But what about everyone else? Is there something wrong with that message that we have to work fast and furious to grow our business before we can consider helping others? How do we measure impact? Is it only about how many we can help or serve? Is it only about how much we can give? Does it only matter if what we can do or give has a lot of zeros behind it?
Small deed, big impact
In recent years, in my small city, roughly 100 children every month enter foster care. They are often neglected, abused, and of course they’re scared. A group of us formed and began to raise money and collect backpacks and overnight supplies so that every child who entered foster care would have a bag to travel with and take to school. This in place of the traditional black garbage bag they carried their things in.
It brings to mind the story of one little 8-year-old girl who entered foster care with her two younger siblings. This girl, like many oldest children in a sibling group, felt somehow responsible for the safety and well-being of her younger siblings.
Having the opportunity to help her younger family members pick out a beautiful new backpack and supplies brought a smile to her little face that hadn’t been there for quite a long time. It helped her take care of her siblings. It provided some security and a feeling that others cared for them too….that they were worthy. How do we place a value on that? How do we place a value on the lives of those little children?
It’s not all about me?
Can life just be about ourselves, everything we can acquire, and all the places we can go first-class? Probably not. Because we don’t just live in a vacuum, do we? Part of our reason for being on this planet is to help out our fellow man.
There is need all around us in our communities. There is need all around the globe. There are tragedies and needs that we can’t even begin to imagine.
One of my clients, ChildVoice International, works out of northern Uganda with former child soldiers. These young women, many of them child mothers, have seen and experienced horrors that affect their lives in profound ways. The ChildVoice vision according to Conrad Mandsager, President and CEO of the organization, is “to create a place where these rejected and vulnerable children can find refuge as they rebuild their lives through spiritual and psychosocial counseling, education, vocational and life skill training.”
Many of these young women start a business, but they need a small $100 micro-loan to make it happen. Small gift. Big impact. This program, this small loan, this business start-up provides independence and feelings of self-worth. It enables a mother to provide for her children and send them to school. She can break the cycle of poverty and raise the standard of living for herself and her family.
Your business does good
You started your business with the goal of making a profit. You may have started your business because there was something that you loved doing or creating that you wanted to bring to the world. Either way, you provide a product or a service that helps others in some way. I get that.
But there is a way to leverage your business for the greater good. You are in a very unique position, as a business owner, to send a message; to raise awareness; and to build support for causes that you are passionate about. That doesn’t take a lot of money. That takes desire, planning, and action.
Aligning your company’s mission, vision, and values with those causes that you believe in will do a world of good for the causes that need it, and the people and communities they serve. It will also build your brand to a new level as a socially responsible organization that uses its resources for good beyond its own walls.
Today, as people are becoming more socially conscious, that’s what more consumers want to see in organizations that they know, like and trust. And they buy from businesses they know, like and trust, and increasingly those who give back.
Think about it. How can you impact your brand, your customer, and those in need by using your business as a vehicle for change? Start small. Start today.
If you’ve created a cause related marketing or other socially conscious program within your business, please share it with us in the comments below.