Entrepreneurship is physically, mentally, and emotionally trying. To establish a business, individuals need to work around the clock and overcome seemingly insurmountable hurdles. Should a business succeed, however, the payoff can be great. Often, these individuals bring the same passion to their philanthropy, despite the fact that there’s no such promise of a material payoff.
Still, entrepreneurs can gain many personal benefits from doing good for others, even if these benefits are not immediately obvious. Some of the most important benefits that entrepreneurs can receive from philanthropic engagement include:
Increased ingenuity and greater resilience.
Entrepreneurs and philanthropists have similar motivation. Both of these individuals are driven to solve a problem. When entrepreneurs get involved with philanthropy, they learn new, unique approaches to problem-solving. These different experiences give entrepreneurs new ways of thinking about their own business that can help them pull ahead of the competition. Moreover, entrepreneurs learn that everyone encounters hurdles, whether in the world of business or charity. Philanthropists trudge ahead because they believe in their causes. This important lesson in resilience can inspire entrepreneurs to move forward in a similar fashion, even when it seems likes the cards are stacked against them.
The ability to give without expectation.
In the business world, much happens on a “quid pro quo” basis. Entrepreneurs often have difficulty separating themselves from the idea that they should get something in return for the things that they do. However, learning to give without expectation is important for entrepreneurial success. Giving without expectation is also a liberating and motivating experience. You can use the positive feelings you get from making a real impact in someone else’s life to motivate yourself to overcome other challenges. Secondly, giving without demanding something in return builds good will, and reciprocation can happen in unexpected ways and when you least expect it. While you should not depend on reciprocation, helping more people generally results in more people who are willing to help when you’re in need.
More respect from employees.
Happy employees are productive employees. One way to make employees happy is to provide them with opportunities to support the causes they care about and allow them to make a real impact on their communities. This might include paid time off to volunteer, team-building events centered on philanthropy or volunteerism, food drives, and so on. Beyond that, many people look up to the leaders at their companies as role models. When they see their leaders engaging in philanthropy, their respect for them grows, as does their motivation to perform at their peak. In addition, no one wants to work for a leader who is perceived as selfish or stingy. Leaders who are committed to philanthropy can be an asset when the company is recruiting new talent.
Larger personal networks.
One of the biggest determinants of success in business is the size of an entrepreneur’s personal network. With a large, strong network, an entrepreneur can access the help, support, and feedback they need to become successful. Importantly, philanthropy has become an effective way to expand one’s personal network. Through philanthropy, entrepreneurs meet other philanthropists and additional contacts who share their values. Many individuals choose to keep their philanthropic involvement quiet, but talking about it candidly among colleagues can open a number of doors in terms of both business and doing more good for the community.
Broadened perspectives about the world.
Entrepreneurs can quickly become trapped in industry bubbles and lose touch with the outside world, both in their own city and the global community. Partaking in philanthropy can serve as a grounding exercise that can teach us about the world around us and help us develop empathy, as well as a host of other skills that are critical success in business and life. Traditional education can only go so far. Hands-on philanthropy and volunteerism helps us grow as individuals. It offers exposure to new perspectives and ideas that can influence how we operate in the workplace and beyond. In this sense, philanthropy helps use excel in both our professional and personal lives.
Better reputation in the community.
When engaging in philanthropy, entrepreneurs have a number of decisions to make. Many people aim for hyperlocal philanthropy by asking the communities where they live and work what they need to improve quality of life. Entrepreneurs who take this approach can gain respect in the community, which could mean that more people are willing to support the entrepreneur’s business, because they know the leadership is committed to giving back. Community members may become more likely to stick up for the entrepreneur and the company should times become rocky. Overall, allies in the local community are necessary in the long run.
Improved communication skills.
Philanthropy involves listening to the needs of people we wish to help, whether they are our immediate neighbors or residents of a city halfway around the world. Charity isn’t effective when philanthropists simply throw money at a cause without taking the time to listen to the people they are trying to help and understanding what they truly need. Similarly, the part of communication that entrepreneurs often struggle with the most is listening. However, through philanthropy, entrepreneurs can become better equipped to listen to their employees, their business partners, and their friends about what the next steps should be.