Written by Dave Cantin for Forbes.com.
While anyone can certainly participate in community service, and every contribution is important, I believe businesses can and should make a larger impact than single individuals.
Having a vested interest after beating leukemia, I choose to focus my philanthropy on cancer research. Throughout my career, I have assisted in raising more than $100 million for cancer research personally and through a percentage of the proceeds from my company.
I took what essentially was a death sentence and harnessed it into my superpower. With a successful business and a great deal to be thankful for, I utilize every opportunity to share the importance of empowering oneself through giving back to your community. My philosophy in philanthropy is one of cyclical momentum: Growing to give. Giving to grow.
Businesses are a part of the communities where they reside. They are sponsors of little league teams, supporters of local organizations and contributors to national and even international causes. Such participation can impact anything from cutting-edge research to community projects or even neighborhood initiatives. All these actions, big and small, move the needle in a positive direction. It’s never just a simple donation. Businesses that engage in philanthropic pursuits can reap near- and long-term benefits that can often be tangible.
As a quote often attributed to Winston Churchill says, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Not only personally, but professionally, my business has gained so much in return from our philanthropic efforts.
Here are four key benefits a business will reap when giving back:
1. Network Expansion
Most philanthropic organizations have business leaders on the board. It is a chance to meet and form bonds. Successful people tend to have the clout and the means—they can be very passionate about giving—and that’s something they can have in common as a means to build a stronger working relationship.
2. Empowering Employees
Charitable giving not only makes corporate leadership feel good—it makes your team feel like they are making a difference. It can also encourage them to get involved individually as well. It can foster higher morale, camaraderie and respect. This can be part of your corporate mission as a way to foster team-building opportunities. Especially with local donations, you are offering much needed help to your direct community.
3. Business Reputation
Obviously, businesses survive by growing their customer base. Local charities are not just wonderful outlets for support, but when you engage with and give to these charities, it can build your company’s reputation, your brand and your sales. People simply like to support businesses that support their community. It engenders a feeling that their money is well spent and is going back into their hometown. This creates loyalty and a shared value system that resonates with neighbors.
4. Good Marketing
According to a recent study, “More than nine-in-10 Millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause.” While you shouldn’t give simply to toot your own horn, you do want to engage with this high demand demographic and others. This is a positive and proactive way to do that for all.
The Right Thing To Do
Giving back is the foundation on which we, as humans, are built. You don’t have to go through a life-altering experience in order to create a scenario where you or your business finds giving back to be important. It can simply be because it makes you and all those who surround you feel good; it can be because it is important and could even save a life.
Making a difference in the lives of others and putting good into the world are missions that are very close to my heart. As long as I have something to say about it, giving back will always be a key component across every part of my business and personal life. Not only is it good for business; it is simply the right thing to do.