Philanthropreneur: Why Business Owners Should Get Involved In Local Nonprofits

Philanthropreneur: Why Business Owners Should Get Involved In Local Nonprofits
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I'm an accidental philanthropist, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

I first got involved in Easter Seals nearly 15 years ago when my former boss, part of the West Palm Beach Easter Seals founding group, "asked" me to help out with an event. I obliged, and was instantly amazed at the passion and good-hearted nature of the people that were a part of the organization. It was contagious.

The more I got involved, the more I wanted to get involved. I now serve on the Easter Seals Florida Board and assist with events, including the Get Down to Business Lunch. The organization, and philanthropy, are now a part of me and my business.

You don't have to have an ulterior motive when getting started to benefit from giving your time to a great cause. There are causes that need your support and help and plenty to gain from being involved.

Here are seven ways your business can benefit from getting involved in philanthropy:

- Relationships
I fell in love with philanthropy because of the people. I've made many friends and built new relationships I'll value forever. These relationships only develop if you are generous with your time and help, not intentionally trying to advance your business by getting involved in philanthropy.

The relationships you create with the other volunteers, organizers, employees, and people you're helping will benefit you personally, and when appropriate, can help your business. Since relationships are based on trust, and it's likely that if they trust you they will trust your business, even things you do outside of the office will have an impact on your company.

- Community Trust and Awareness
Communities support local businesses that are an active part of the community. Volunteering and finding ways to help the community outside of the products and services you provide shows them that you're dedicated and proud to give back to the community. This service also gets you and your name in front of the community, raising awareness of your company.

- Brand Alignment
In return for donations and event sponsorships, companies receive recognition from these organizations and have their brand aligned with the brand of a nonprofit. Having your company's name placed alongside important causes and inspiring organizations helps raise the opinion of what you're doing in the minds of customers, partners, and the general public. This alignment shows your dedication to making a positive difference, and it will become a part of your business, which can be more beneficial than any traditional paid advertising.

- Learning
I had little experience in event planning and being part of an organization's board before getting involved with Easter Seals. It's impossible not to learn and gain new expertise, even if taking a volunteer role that has similar duties to your current one. This knowledge can be implemented in the processes and procedures within your company.

- Exclusive Opportunities
Each year I'm involved in the Get Down to Business Lunch. Hundreds of business leaders and community members come out to the event to support children and families who need support. There are special opportunities and a dinner the night before that gives organizers and volunteers the ability to meet with the featured speaker and others to network and hang out.

- Team Building
Some teams pay to go out on retreats or spend thousands on team-building activities. While those can certainly be beneficial, volunteering is also a great way to strengthen the bond amongst your employees and can bring vital help to a cause.

Getting involved as a company helps bring your team together, and they will also gain from many of the other benefits listed above. Strengthening your team also improves your business - making it more efficient and improving the corporate culture, which is contagious in a good way.

- A Much-Needed Break
Take a load off! Sure, volunteering is hard work, but it offers a change of scenery and will give you a much-needed break from your daily grind.

I come up with my best ideas when out of the office. It's hard to feel that you have time to spend outside of your business, but sometimes it's the most productive thing you can do.

I give back because it makes me feel good, and I know that even doing my small part contributes to a larger whole that's doing a lot of good. However you need to justify getting involved in philanthropy, your efforts will pay off for the organizations you give your time to, yourself, and your business.

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