Years ago, I attended the Inner City 100 conference and listened to a small-business owner detail how he’d removed himself from the boards of directors of several charities, stating, “such involvements distracted him from running his business.” He was not being malicious and even admitted to being somewhat sad about stepping down from certain boards.
I propose that his actions should have been the exact opposite. Granted there is limited time in everyone’s day and priorities have to align with business goals, but company ownership should be a vehicle by which the community and society as a whole benefit.
History has many examples of businesses advancing the well-being of all citizens. The massive fortunes of the Rockefellers, Carnegies, Mellons, and Whitneys were instrumental in establishing institutions and foundations that survive to this day. Museums, colleges, hospitals, and scientific research organizations all benefit from those long-ago giants.
Current-day philanthropists, such as Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, provide major gifts worldwide. And Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses was created with a $500 million grant to support a national effort that teaches small business owners, many of whom are minorities and women, to create new jobs through business growth.
The impact of business outside the corporate environment remains steady, as it should, with many business owners firmly rooted in their communities’ schools, sports leagues, cause-related events, and organizations. It isn’t a movement that needs to be created. It’s already formidable; it merely needs to be championed and encouraged.
Our communities—local, regional, national, international—are better off because of the businesses that create the jobs and wealth, which in turn lead to philanthropy and civic assistance.
Small-business owners sometimes think they can’t be effective, lacking the financial ability to make significant donations. However, small amounts by many add up. And their leadership and vision are of paramount importance. Charities work very lean and providing valuable input can make a huge difference.
Do good to make good is the philosophy that proves that a business helping the community benefits both the business and the community. Being a vital part of the world outside the office walls is not only rewarding philosophically but identifies the company as a good corporate citizen.
Those who understand that they have an important role to play in the world know that Scrooge and bah humbug have no place in the business. Those individuals are always looking for ways to have an impact on the world, and thank God they do.