In a world where businesses seem obsessed with profit, what is the business case for generosity?
When we give, we think that we make a difference in the life of others, the reality is that they make a difference in our lives by making philanthropic power accessible to all. Understanding this is revolutionising business as we know it.
We live in an interconnected and interdependent world, so the actions of the few have an impact on the whole system. It is not about how much you give, it’s about the impact that is created. Even a cent can make a difference when you know how and where to give it. For that, you need to know what values you stand for and define your purpose: If your intention is to make more money so you can give more and have a greater positive impact on the world, you can uplift humankind to unimaginable levels of prosperity, peace and happiness, while having a thriving, ever developing business. As Daniel Pink says in his book DRIVE, “The move to accompany profit maximisation with purpose maximisation has the potential to rejuvenate our business and remake our world”
A new wave of really inspiring companies such as the Container Store, Trader Joe’s, Patagonia and Whole Foods Market advocate that doing good and being generous need to be embedded in the business structure. They consider that business can be a vehicle for social change, and they are finding creative solutions that are economically and socially sustainable to encourage people to be disruptive about their generosity.
A recent documentary called “Not Business as Usual” tracks the changing landscape of business with the rising tide of conscious capitalism through the stories of local entrepreneurs such as Fairer, Lunapads, and Institute B, who have found innovative ways to bring humanity back into business.
These companies found out that adopting a responsible ethos actually attracts talent. Everyone needs a reason to get out of bed in the morning to do what they do. Considering the amount of time that we spend in work, it makes sense that we should enjoy what we do and feel rewarded whilst doing it. Employees who work for conscious companies love what they are doing. They know that every single cent raised can make a big difference somewhere in the world. They aim to be part of creating a legacy and leaving the world a better place.
Raj Sisodia, the author of “Firms of Endearment” wrote that today’s greatest companies are fueled by passion and purpose, not cash. They earn large profits by helping all their stakeholders thrive: customers, investors, employees, partners, communities, and society.
Seth Godin says that we are transitioning into what he calls “the connection economy” in which value is created by the connections we make and not by industrialism. And connections in the new economy are fueled by a focus on two specific aspects of humanity – generosity and art.
When you help others, it becomes part of your brand story, what you tell the market about yourself.
But how to be generous? According to Paul Dunn from Buy One Give One , the word charity doesn’t always elicit warm feelings, so he asks to be careful about the words you use to connect to your audience.
An idea to consider is embedded giving. It’s a form of charitable donation in which an act of philanthropy is built into a larger financial transaction so that even the smallest business can contribute to social change in a big and completely new way.
According to Paul Dunn, giving generously creates 3 special things around your business: Impact, habit and connection: Making giving habitual creates a reference point, reminding people of why they do what they do.
Generosity, done consciously, has the power to transform business and change lives. However, giving generously is not about expecting anything in return, but rather about focusing on the right action without being unduly attached to outcome. Giving generously is about transforming yourself before you transform others or as you transform others.
What could you personally do to be disruptively generous today?
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