Category: Economic Development
A new study released by The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University finds that boomer women are more charitable than men. It also finds that women give 89 percent more than men. Guys, this is my challenge to you: it’s time to step it up.
Wait, let me change that. This is my challenge to all business leaders and owners. As a business owner in Indianapolis myself, I believe it’s up to all of us, men and women alike, to do our part. Why? Our generosity builds a strong community, which in turn makes us a strong economic candidate for business growth and new business development.
When I stop and think about the Indianapolis business community and who’s who among the leaders, I notice a trend. They are generous. These are the people who help others in business and in community. These are people who: step up join boards to provide a valuable voice; give their time to non-profit committees by rolling up their sleeves; and make regular cash donations to organizations in the community.
When I took over RJE Business Interiors, I remember someone telling me when you start “getting the call” regularly it means you’ve made it in business. Ten plus years later with numerous boards and non-profit commitments completed or in motion, I think that person got it wrong. It doesn’t mean I’ve made it. It means I’m fortunate. I’m fortunate that business is steady, which in turn gives me and the entire RJE staff resources to be generous.
Join me and consider these lessons learned:
• Doing your part to build a stronger community is not about ROI. It’s about raising-up the profile of the entire business community. It’s about helping people in our community who need a hand. It’s about sharing your professional skills and business knowledge to bring someone else success. Years ago I was called on by a non-profit to help take a fundraising event to the next level. The executive director and staff were great. They told me their challenge and asked my insights. Together we doubled the amount raised at their event and heightened their profile in the business community. They won and that made me feel great!
• Learn where your skills best fit. Then use them. Some people remember back in 2007 when I co-chaired the United Way campaign. I know I’m good at business strategy and focusing on achieving a business goal. In the case of this campaign—it was about raising money. We were laser focused. We beat the fund raising goal. Again, a win for the United Way and all of their agencies.
• Lead by example. Get your business involved in community and bring employees along with you. Part of being a leader at your company is being an example to those around you. My participation in United Way’s campaign made our RJE team proud. In turn, they wanted to participate. Years after the campaign I continue to be proud of my team. For the ninth year in a row we have 100% employee participation in the yearly United Way campaign.
• Take it personally. Being involved, generous and committed to community simply makes me feel good. I’m proud of my employees and the good our donations do to help others!
• Remember, a little does a lot. Some people ask, “What can I do?” Little acts of kindness mean a lot. Donations to non-profits don’t have to be in the thousands of dollars. Smaller donations help—always. Just ask any non-profit executive director or board member. Offering insight and advice related to your profession when called on goes a long way.
• Philanthropy allows you to grow. As I said, I believe there is an obligation of successful business owners to use their talents and resources to help our community. But that doesn’t always mean you have to volunteer in your professional area. Branch out into a committee or area you’d like to know more about. You get a chance to learn, grow and continue to give back.
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