Business Needs to Contribute, Not Simply Give Back
20 April 2017 at 8:15 am
There are ways other than just giving to give back, writes co-founder and managing director of The Growth Project Larry Fingleson.
The not-for-profit and charity sector is well documented as having its origin based on “giving through guilt”, that is that those that made money were encouraged to give a certain percentage of their monetary gains to charity.
Dan Pallota explains this quite brilliantly in his TED talk The way we think about charities is dead wrong. If you have not watched it before and have an interest in influencing and changing the shape and future of the not-for-profit and charity sector in Australia, take the time to watch it. And if you have seen it and are reading this, watch it again because Dan is a true leader in giving his life and making his entire purpose about influencing the thoughts and actions of those interested in shaping and changing the way business and charities engage with each other.
Over time, as businesses made more profits there arose a greater awareness and need for the boards and shareholders to be “good corporate citizens”, they donated a portion of their earnings to charities. This is not too dissimilar to the personal experience that Dan talks about in his TED talk. We all know and can picture the CEO of an organisation handing over a big cheque and having their photo taken so that it can sit at the reception of the company, or now on the internet, so that the world can see how good the company is because it gave money to charity.
Meanwhile, charity leaders are people who have been personally moved by circumstance to give their life’s work to a cause that has become their life’s purpose, or they have made enough money from the business world and then stop and want to “give back”. Those that fall into the former group may have limited funds themselves, have families to support, but their “calling” to pursue their cause means that they will do so for little or no pay because their belief in the need to do the work is so great. The latter, who have already made the money, have worked so hard that they may want to give money to a cause, but they then become more selective and guarded with their time.
Let’s go back and revisit the concept of “giving back”. Allan English – one of the world’s true gentleman and strategic philanthropists – has tried to remove the term from his personal vocabulary. If someone is “giving back”, it creates the impression that they have either taken too much or that they are now finished their journey of “making” and have reached a point of stopping, reflecting and want to return some money they made from the business world to the not-for-profit and charity sector. Alan suggests we call this “contributing” or “contributing forward” instead of “giving back”.
Somewhere among all the above lies an opportunity to integrate the content of knowledge and wisdom that sits within the minds of the business leaders and infuse it into the minds of the emerging leaders of the not-for-profit and charity sector. There is a generation of passionate, intelligent and heart-inspired leaders emerging who have been born into a world that is expensive to live in and they want to build and develop their lives not solely working “9 to 5” at desk jobs to pay the bills. They want to work but they also want to contribute while they work, they don’t want to wait until they have “made-it” to stop and “give back”.
A unique case study has emerged within the Australian business and social sector: The Growth Project. It is an emerging program of collaboration between the for-profit and not-for-profit sector that seeks to make a positive impact on society by bringing together 100 charity leaders and 100 business leaders over a five-year period between 2015 and 2020.
For more information, visit www.thegrowthproject.com.au