In your first days of running your business, it seemed like you’d never make a profit.
Your vendors’ invoices added up for the next few months of production, and your rent and utility bills snuck up on you just when you thought everything was covered.
Add in your employees’ wages and unexpected costs such as emergency repairs, and it was hard to see how you’d survive as an entrepreneur.
But that time is behind you now. You’re a successful business owner, and it’s time to give back to your community in one of these ways.
Serve on the Board of a Nonprofit Organization
Your company is now self-sufficient enough that you don’t have to devote all of your attention to it. With your well-developed corporate structure, you have time to serve on the board of a nonprofit organization that you care about.
As a member of the board, you make key decisions about the group’s future and work with donors to ensure that participants have enough funding.
Generally, you must be nominated for a position and then elected to it, but you may be able to speak to current members about finding an open spot.
Choose an organization from which you have benefited or one that helps people who are close to you.
For example, when most people think of Patrick James Trico, they think of him as the founder of First Brands Group, a successful automotive company. However, James also serves on the board of trustees for a school belonging to the Cristo Rey Network in Cleveland, OH.
If you can’t think of an organization that needs board members, check with the following groups in your area:
- Schools and universities
- Food pantries
- Homeless shelters
- Local museums
- Animal shelters
These associations need your expertise, leadership experience, and professional network to help their members as much as possible.
By offering your time, you add an impressive title to your resume and help steer nonprofits towards a better future.
Donate to Causes You’re Passionate About
You may think that donating to causes is overrated, but you should never underestimate the value of a large monetary gift.
Choose a cause that’s relevant to your field of work or that has personally affected your life. For example, if you run an outdoor goods store, donate to conservation or environmental clean-up efforts in your area.
On the other hand, if a family member suffers from a disease that has no cure yet, such as cancer or dementia, give your money to researchers in that field.
As you decide which causes to support with your profits, consider choosing a small organization. If you have $500,000 to spend on school supplies, that money will make a much bigger difference at your local elementary school or community college than at a high-profile university.
Still, gifts to major institutions have the opportunity for incredible results.
For example, in April 2020, the singer Dolly Parton donated one million dollars to Vanderbilt University, and that donation helped fund one of the first preliminary vaccines against COVID-19.
Weigh the personal connections formed by donations to small groups against the opportunity to make a widespread impact as you choose your donation location.
Once you know which causes you’re going to support, make a commitment to regular giving.
Large one-time gifts may increase your company’s profile for a while, but they don’t help the recipients as much as monthly or annual funding on which they can rely.
To maximize your impact, pledge to donate a percentage of your profits to a group every month, or choose a few people to sponsor as they work through a program.
Mentor the Next Generation
When you don’t have too much extra money, use your time to serve your community by mentoring the next generation.
Sign up for existing programs at one of the following organizations to guide the youth in your area:
- Boy and Girl Scout troops
- Community centers
- Homeless shelters
- High schools
- Community colleges
If you’ve researched the existing opportunities in your area and none of them is a good fit, consider starting your own mentor program.
Talk to other members of your company and see if anyone else would be interested, and then decide on a focus for your program.
Perhaps you want to support people from minority backgrounds who are interested in your field, or perhaps you want to help students from underprivileged families.
Create a forum that allows you to meet one-on-one with your mentee and talk about his or her aspirations. If you have room in your budget, include an internship or summer job in the program to take your guidance to the next level.
Now that you’ve achieved financial success with your business, you have a responsibility to help your community. Use these tips to guide your first steps towards becoming a philanthropist.