How do you empower yourself in life? Do you set goals, record accomplishments, engage in opportunities to stretch your comfort zone, or instill compelling mantras within yourself? What is the difference between empowering yourself and empowering other people? Last week, I attended an event that highlighted Goodwill and their mission: to provide career pathways, job placement services, and various other community-based programs for individuals who have barriers that prevent them from employment. As I listened to the heartbreaking struggles and life stories of Goodwill training program graduates whose lives had been positively impacted by the organization, I glanced across the room and caught the heart and soul of humanity among the faces of various business representatives, executives and supporters. In a room full of ordinary people, there was an overwhelmingly collective sense of humility, inspiration and desire to make a difference, contribute, and change the world. I was humbled by the tremendous commitment to improve the world and the lives of others in that moment as I watched so many people empower Goodwill and those that they serve.
Combining the two platforms of business and philanthropy can be a controversial undertaking, but when these two worlds merge, the positive impact that is forged can be unparalleled. Take Goodwill, for instance, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering others. Like many non-profits and those who support them, Goodwill realizes that the best way to empower yourself as an individual or as an organization is by empowering others.
When you empower another person, you invest yourself and take a risk that has the potential to change another person’s life while simultaneously enriching yourself with their story, their culture and their purpose. Have you ever felt empowered by another person? Did this instill a sense of confidence in your abilities? When another person empowers me, it immediately becomes apparent that they are invested in me and believe in my abilities, affording self-awareness and impetus to overcome significant challenges. In some way, we are all inspired by ourselves when others believe in our abilities and empower us, which encourages us to recognize our own true potential. When empowering another person, you affect that person, the world, and, ultimately, yourself.
In my pursuit of an astute approach to blending business and philanthropy, I stumbled upon a book titled “The Doing Good Model: Activate Your Goodness in Business,” written by Shari Arison, a seasoned businesswoman, philanthropist, and the wealthiest woman in Israel. “The Doing Good Model” is a values-based method that assists with closing gaps between values, people, and organizational structures; this in turn infuses global values into the workplace. This model is built from the idea that the definition of success should emphasize well-being and prosperity for individuals and the workplace; additionally, it invites professionals to make change for humanity, highlighting 13 essential business values: Financial Freedom, Purity, Being, Inner Peace, Fulfillment, Vitality, Giving, Volunteering, Language & Communication, Sustainability, Added Value For Humanity, We Are All One, and Abundance. In many instances, these values have been lost to the business realm as competitive presence becomes more economically relevant. Arison’s Doing Good Model re-establishes these values in the business world where, in most cases, they have been long forgotten. The result of implementing these values? Stimulation of society, economy, and ecology.
Bill Gates, a top American business magnate, investor, author, and philanthropist strongly insists that, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” What does the world need more of that you can provide? What does the world need more of that you can provide through your business? Business has the influence within the world economy to craft an earth better than the one that was given to us by our predecessors. It does require courage, however, to make a difference – strong leaders who can break through the limitations of what is normative and seek possibility and change through unconventional vision. Are you able to change the world? What will be your contribution to future generations? If not you, who?
As I reflect on Invista Performance Solutions’ dedication to making a difference within the lives of others by providing career pathway programs to individuals who face overwhelming life challenges that bar them from opportunity, I feel empowered. When I watch a student walk up and accept their certificate at the end of a training cohort, I feel empowered. When I receive a phone call from a graduate of our Goodwill Warehouse and Logistics training program informing me that they have found a job and thanking me for the support I gave to help get them there, I feel empowered. Though my contributions are but small on the scale of possibility, I am supported in utilizing opportunities to help others how I am able to and with what I am able. When I realize the difference that Invista Performance Solutions and I are making in the lives of others and in the future of the world, I am empowered. How will you empower yourself by empowering others?
How can you kick start your organization into giving back to the community? There are several easy, innovative approaches that businesses can utilize in pursuit of business philanthropy:
1. Encourage give-back unification and workplace culture
Create a comprehensive give-back action plan and inspire your employees to get involved, modeling by example. Lead efforts to organize events, programs and activities, post charity opportunities on job boards, and recognize your employees for their contributions.
2. Align causes with care and skill
What causes do your employees care about personally? What set of skills and strengths can they contribute to the community that will forge meaningful results and build a sense ownership and personal contribution? What strengths does your team possess as a whole to offer to the community? Encourage involvement in causes that your employees are committed to while endorsing their skills.
Employers who incentivize employees to give back to the community see exponentially positive results.
Here are some examples of philanthropic incentivizing:
- Businesses can match the individual charity donations of employees;
- Businesses can implement community points programs that motivate and reward employees with the most community involvement or contribution (examples of rewards: employee recognition, time off, work-from-home day, front-row parking, tickets to an event, employee of the month, company apparel, traveling trophy, etc.)
4. Offer free services and goods to the community
Many local retail or grocery stories donate goods and foods to those in need. What does your business offer to the community? Are there ways for your business to donate services or goods to the community to make a positive impact?
5. Support a charity or partner with a non-profit
Non-profit organizations such as United Way, Habitat for Humanity, and The Humane Society are just a few entities who partner with businesses to raise money and collect resources for community needs. Schedule a food-drive donation day, post a sign-up sheet for a sponsored event (such as a walk or run), or start a donation jar. These are simple efforts to begin cultivating your give-back work culture.
6. Company donation stipends
Allocate donation stipends for individual employees to use in donating to a cause of their choice. This encourages employees to take ownership and pride for the cause that they are contributing to.
Humanitarian efforts pay off for businesses. What are some of these benefits?
- Workplace value and culture improves
- Employee morale and teambuilding blossoms
- Increased brand building and visibility; businesses gain recognition and positive reputation in the community for organized contributions
- Tax write-offs
- Positive change in the community
- Businesses appeal to new customers
If personal contributions can make an impact on the community and the world, just imagine the profound positive change that can occur when an organization not only endorses, but supports its employees in giving back to the community. There is power in numbers, and in business philanthropy, everyone wins.
Arison, Shari. The Doing Good Model: Activate Your Goodness in Business. BenBella Books, Dallas, 2015.