Tis the season. It’s almost that time. Already. The time of year when everyone starts to pretend that they have a heart of gold as thoughts of dancing orphans fill their minds. My official stance: “Uggh.” They were just standing out in the cold waiting in line to purchase a phone that costs more than a few months of rent in low income projects - and the day after Thanksgiving, they’ll be fighting people in Wal-Mart to get a great bargain on the latest, greatest flat screen TV… while people are starving. Welcome to America.
I realize that this isn’t the warm and fuzzy introduction you expected, especially if this is your first visit to the best business blog you’ve never heard of, and my opinion may not be popular - but I learned a long time ago that popularity will fade long before authenticity.
The fact is that there are a lot of people who could benefit from entrepreneurs (and corporations) taking out just a little bit of their time to give back. And no, I don’t mean give back in the sense of “watch me on the news shaking hands with homeless people as I look into the camera and distribute stale peanut butter sandwiches” kind of way. I mean truly GIVE BACK. I suggest that every business take a day to discover ways that your company can assist the communities that you serve, and learn ways that you can use what you have to benefit someone else.
“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
-1 Peter 4:10
A few days ago, I got a text from one of my clients requesting I call an associate of theirs who needed me. I had no idea what I was calling for, but for some reason, I immediately stopped what I was doing to contact the individual - I just had a feeling that this was an urgent situation. In essence, the individual was doing a service project with a domestic violence shelter and needed a flyer to get the word out (and another designer had dropped the ball). Within a matter of hours, my in-kind donation of graphic design services was emailed and the new client was completely thrilled. I normally don’t share stories like this because I don’t want to come across as that guy who does work in the community for the sake of the cameras and attention. But, I really want entrepreneurs to grab hold of this principle as you’re starting out, so that as you grow you’ll have this willingness to serve in your company’s DNA.
Sometimes, it’s a simple gesture of offering your product or service pro-bono to a worthy non-profit organization that’s just getting on its feet. Sometimes, it’s getting a group of your employees together to go build homes with local organizations. Sometimes, it’s visiting a crowd funding website and making a donation to a worthwhile cause or individual. Sometimes, it’s volunteering with youth in your community to show them that there is another way to become successful outside of what is showcased on MTV and BET. Sometimes, it’s gathering up the extra coats and blankets in your home on a particularly frigid night and riding around with friends searching for homeless people who may not have a warm coat to help them make it through the night.
In our America, we are often so busy being busy that we forget that we are all placed here with a certain number of gifts, and given plenty of opportunities to use them to benefit the people around us. Not just around holidays, but EVERY day. Find something that you care about as an individual and find a way to weave that that one thing into your brand’s DNA. It’s essential that you find a way to give back - a way to serve the communities that you live and work in. And there is no app that will do that for you in your amazingly fancy new phone.
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