Philanthropy 2.0: 5 Ways to Model Giving Back to Your Community for Your Family and Your Company

Spring is a great time to take stock about the big picture and explore ways that you can leverage your standing to make a difference.

We are entering a new era of altruism in business and it’s no accident that women are gaining positions of power in steadily increasing numbers. We still have a long way to go, but one of the many benefits of female presence in business is a less competitive and more collaborative workplace environment. In short: women care about their families, employees, their community, and the state of the world, and they don’t separate business from personal when it comes to compassion.

As we move into the warmer months of 2016, it’s a great time to assess your individual position in your community, as well as your company’s role in the larger business landscape. The central question is: how can you help?

The following suggestions are ideas to play with, ways that you can contribute reasonably without re-writing your whole playbook. No one is suggesting you quit your job to picket fracking, but helping with a clean water project, that is totally doable.

1. Partner Up.

If this is not part of your wheelhouse as a business already, make sure you examine ways that your business can extend its positive influence in your locale. This can be as simple as inviting a non-profit to an event, doing pro-bono work for local businesses, or working within your city or town to improve basic infrastructure everyone relies on. Again, this doesn’t have to be a mountain of a project; it can be as simple as hiring an artist collective to paint a mural on the side of your building. The key is showing your community that your business recognizes its responsibility to its neighbors.

2. Kickstart allowance.

This is another easy one that you can do at home, or at work. Create a Kickstart allowance and delegate a member of the family or an employee to cruise the Kickstart campaigns, and cull a top five list once a month (make sure the campaign deadlines time up with yours). By the end of the month, everyone votes on who gets the Kickstart allowance. If you make the donation through work, make sure you also notify everyone who won the allowance and keep them updated on the campaign’s progress.

3. Volunteer.

One of the things that families really enjoy is going to the local animal shelter to walk dogs. There are also thousands of other opportunities to sort kids clothes for clothing drives, feed people at homeless shelters, give blood for emergency service providers, and well, the list goes on and on. A few hours of volunteering gives you an altruism high you and your team can ride for days.

4. Have a Voter Education Party.

Whenever elections roll around, we all scramble to read up on the propositions and candidates, or worse, we don’t. There is nothing more uncomfortable than getting to the booth and realizing you don’t know the issues. No matter what your affiliation is, you can have a gathering with drinks and snacks after work and read over the election literature together. Sometimes, people actually divvy up the measures and read up on them so at the voter education party, each person can go over the pros and cons of each vote on the ballot. This doesn’t have to descend into a political debate, in fact to ensure that doesn’t happen, let everyone know that all viewpoints are welcome but the point is simply knowing the facts. The goal is for people to go into the voting booth confident that they are doing their civic duty.

5. Source your home and your company with conscience.

As you are making everyday decisions about your ongoing purchases, ensign a family member or an employee to do a little research into the products and processes you are using. For example, does the company that makes your copier have recyclable ink cartridges? When you have an event catered, can you source the food locally? These are little details and you might not always be able to balance the budget with the environmentally-friendly options, but always keep in mind that part of our power in the marketplace is our purchasing power, and by choosing the biodegradable soap over the chemical soap, we are showing the market where our priorities are. This is a crucial lesson we can impart on our children as they become older.

Don’t underestimate the impact that modeling values and making small energetic contributions has on those around you, particularly, your immediate friends, family, and employees. Get your family and your team in on your philanthropy brainstorm and you will be stunned at the creative ways people can come up with to help. As business leaders, it’s part of the responsibility to govern wisely, to stay informed, and to inspire a brighter future. And as women, we come to that naturally.