As I write this Vancouver is one again getting ready to host the National Philanthropy Day Lunch and the Giving Heart Awards. Giving back is one of my key values and with the holiday season upon us I thought it would be a great topic for this month’s feature. One of my favorite quotes is by Kevin Spacey (I am a huge House of Cards fan) “If you’re lucky enough to do well, it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down.” Now I know finances are tight for everyone and we are all busy being busy, so how do you find the time or money to give back?
What is Philanthropy anyway? Philanthropy to me means contributing to the greater good by donating your money, time or reputation to a worthy cause.
Why should you give back? Well first and foremost because it makes you feel good and that is the reason most people do it. The second reason is to make a difference in the world. However I want to give you a third reason, one that people often overlook. When you make a difference, it displays your values to the world and helps you build a stronger personal brand. For example I am a passionate champion for women and children. Anyone who follows me on social media will probably know that I sit on the Board of Directors of the Dixon Transition Society a charity that helps women and children fleeing domestic violence. I display my association with them proudly on my LinkedIn profile and my website bio. It tells people who I am and what I believe in. That’s a powerful force to draw the right people and opportunities to you.
Who should you support? First you need to figure out what you are passionate about outside of your family and making money, sorry to be so blunt about it, but there you go. What would you do with the rest of your life if money was no object? Do not pick a cause just because your favorite celebrity supports it or because it appears to be glamorous or popular. Choose something that resonates with you deep down in your soul.
How can you give back? There are so many ways to be philanthropic beyond just sending in a cheque (although that works too!). You know about 7 years ago when I was fired and could not get even a minimum wage job anywhere (oh yes…I have been there) it was volunteering that made me feel like I was actually worth something and gave me a step up. Another way is to encourage your employees to volunteer. I have always been so impressed with companies like Telus that give back to their community in so many different ways by giving their employees a shared sense of purpose and even incentives to volunteer. Beyond volunteering your time, you can also promote their fundraising events and campaigns on social media, or even write a blog post about your favorite charity.
One last thing, please do not wait till you “hit the jackpot in the lottery” or “your schedule clears up” to make a difference, because those may never happen. Make an effort to do good now. Sometimes simply by wearing your values on your sleeve, you can show people who you are. That is beyond the selfies and always positive Facebook posts where you tell everyone how perfect your life is. When you give back you let your inner beauty shine through.