If the past year taught us anything about humanity, it’s that we’re stronger when we stand together. And thanks to technology, we can stand together even if we live oceans apart or are sheltering in place. Living and working in self-constructed silos keeps us apart. It also dampens creativity and, quite honestly, personal fulfillment.
I know you’re busy as an entrepreneur. I am, too. But part of our duty as leaders is to become thriving members of our community. One way to fulfill that responsibility is with charity entrepreneurship.
I’m not talking about merely writing a check, either. Certainly, the nonprofits in your area would appreciate donations. However, what they also need is your philanthropic engagement. After all, nonprofits are businesses — yet they’re rarely run by people with business backgrounds.
More frequently, you’ll find that people launch charities out of passion, not planning. They’re deeply rooted in their causes. However, they may not be able to budget effectively, understand how to write a business plan, or know the best ways to use data to place donors into different categories.
This is where you (and I) come into the picture.
Jumping into the world of philanthropic endeavors
As corporate heads, we live and breathe all the stuff that nonprofits need. Most of us have learned our lessons, established dependable processes, and figured out what works (remember the Ecclesiastes quote “… there is nothing new under the sun.”) Our wealth of experiences afford us the opportunity to share our abilities and know-how. And my strong belief in faith and family leads me to believe that we all have a duty to spread the seeds of knowledge instead of hiding our talents.
Of course, knowing the importance of philanthropy and actually taking the first steps toward charity entrepreneurship are two different things. Below are some ways for you to get started.
1. Identify the strengths that make you you.
Before you do anything else, write down all the things you’re really, really good at doing, business-wise. Are you a rainmaker? A motivator? Numbers person? Identify what your gifts are, and don’t worry about sounding cocky. Consider this an exercise in what some people call “humble bragging.” When you’ve outlined everything you do better than average, go on to the next strategy.
2. Think about a charity that could benefit from your gifts.
With your gifts in hand and heart, consider all the nonprofits you know about. Are there any that seem to mesh seamlessly with your list of abilities? Many not-for-profits are out there. A quick Google search will probably reveal more than you knew existed in your marketplace. Take time to find one that piques your interest and could gain an advantage from your full passion.
3. Put your mind at rest about “giving away the store.”
When you get involved with your charity of choice, you may find yourself holding back from time to time. Ask yourself why. Could it be that you’re afraid that you’ll give away all your “secrets?” Go back to the Ecclesiastes verse again. There really isn’t anything new under the sun. Maybe you package everything a little differently, but your methods probably aren’t as novel as you think. Concentrate more on making an impact and worry less about people stealing your ideas (Hint: You probably borrowed them from someone else, too!).
4. Honor your commitment to philanthropic giving.
You don’t have to pledge that you’ll stick with your philanthropic entrepreneurship for life. Nonetheless, make sure you put 100% into your charitable pursuits. Otherwise, it’ll be an unfair relationship. Commit to staying on a board or becoming a member for at least a year. In that amount of time, you’ll glean a better sense of what the charity needs, and you can make a real difference with your involvement.
Charities in your area fill so many gaps that would otherwise go unmet. Show your respect for them by becoming a true servant leader. Who knows? You might become so enthralled with the philanthropic world that you feel called to create one yourself. And if that happens, read more about building a charity.