Part of building a business is acknowledging the responsibility you have to help the world as a whole.
The best businesses, the ones that build loyalty with their customers, partners, and communities feel an obligation to give back. They don’t see business as a strictly transactional relationship where the sole objective is profit. In fact, profit for these types of companies becomes fuel for them to continue servicing their customers and the world at large in better, more meaningful ways.
As a founder, I strongly believe in the importance of giving back.
Each year, I look to make a concerted effort to support the causes I care about, the communities our businesses reside in, and the world at large—and I am inspired by other founders who prioritize the same. Entrepreneurship is certainly one way to spark change, but it’s not the only way. Volunteering, helping fundraise for charities, and supporting people and communities less fortunate are all just as important, and I believe it’s each of our responsibilities to do our part.
If you’re looking to get involved, here are a few ways I look to donate my time each year that may give you some ideas on where to start:
1. Participate in fundraising activities for causes you care about.
This June, I will take a week to be a cyclist in the AIDS/LifeCycle for the 4th time.
In addition to raising money for HIV/AIDS awareness, I love this experience because everyone on the ride feels focused on the cause together. I am disconnected from work for the 7-days, cycling 545 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles alongside 2,500 other people, cycling anywhere from 80 to 100+ miles per day, talking to the other riders and being part of the community.
In addition, I am also participating in the Hill Country Ride for AIDS, which raises funds for nine local nonprofits (including Aids Services of Austin) in the Austin community. Over the past 20 years, HCRA has raised more than $10 million.
There are dozens, if not hundreds of these types of events thrown by different organizations, nonprofits, even companies surrounding meaningful causes. Getting involved is easy, and your presence is always appreciated.
2. Collaborate with employees and team members to find meaningful causes that resonate with people’s personal situations.
One of the things I used to do with my first company, Talent Rover, that we also do at my current company, Place, is find ways to get involved in the community as a team.
At Talent Rover, for example, we did everything from cleaning up the beach in San Francisco, working in homeless shelters and animal shelters, to delivering food to people that needed food, etc. The real value I always found in doing these types of activities together was that you learned a lot about the people you work with, the things they care about, and maybe even why certain experiences are so important to an individual. For example, when we would ask our team for ideas, we would hear stories about family members struggling with cancer, or someone they knew being homeless—which inspired them and everyone else to want to be part of solving those issues in society.
More than just a team-building exercise, these activities really give you a new way to connect with the people you work with, and provide a depth of understanding as to what makes someone who they are.
3. Donate a portion of your company’s time and resources to helping charitable organizations that need help.
At the beginning of 2020, we joined the Pledge 1% at Place.
For those that don’t know, Pledge 1% is this concept of donating 1% of your product, time, and then either equity or profit to contribute to charity.
One of the ways we’ve done this with Place is opening up our software to the nonprofit sector, giving our flagship product, PlaceCPM, away for as close to free as we can so that nonprofits can benefit—similar to the way Salesforce supports nonprofits with their technologies. We then also allocate some of our internal resources to training these nonprofits as well.
In addition, we hold a number of quarterly non-profit events in the cities we have offices—Austin, Chicago, Jaipur—geared toward giving back to our local communities.
As an entrepreneur and founder, I love building companies. But very few things in life are as rewarding as making a real impact in parts of the world that don’t get nearly enough attention and support. I hope this inspires you to come up with your own ways of getting involved, and leverage your business to have an even greater effect on the planet.