Community//

The Value of Giving Back

Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.”

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 As an entrepreneur whose been blessed in many ways, how I pay it forward is just as important as how I get paid.

One of the things I enjoy as an entrepreneur is having the ability to give back, and I’m not alone. According to a survey by Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, a whopping 89% of entrepreneurs donate money to causes and 70% also donate time.

While there are many paths to philanthropy, the primary way I give back is through “Eye Give,” the charitable arm of my company Eye-Am Conchita. This program lets the company give back by donating a percentage of sales from a specific product. For example, we’re looking to develop a mascara and the applicator would feature the colors of our partner charity like a rainbow wand for the Elton John Aids Foundation. Eye Give is also planning to work with Global Gift USA and Free a Girl, where I am one of their international ambassadors.

Throughout my life, giving back has been a foundation. I was taught that you should share your blessings and when your heart speaks, not to silence it. This philosophy was even more reinforced by my friendship with Elton John and David Furnish.

They have taught me that the secret of living is giving. They live and breathe the foundation’s mission and their energy is contagious. Their hearts inspire me like no other. In addition to the Eye-Give’s sponsorship of the Elton John Aids Foundation, I have pledged to donate one percent of the company’s total profits to the organization.

I hope my examples of philanthropy now in turn inspire my daughter London to put giving back front and center in her life. Already, she saves money throughout the year to buy Christmas toys for kids who otherwise might now have something under the tree.

There are many ways entrepreneurs can give back, but it starts with finding a cause you’re passionate about. Organizations like Volunteer Match are a good place to explore nonprofit opportunities in your area. Once you have your charitable focus, here are several ideas to jump start your philanthropy.

Share your Skills

As an entrepreneur you could choose to share your business skills with an organization. You could mentor individuals wanting to start a business, conduct workshops on specific skills or use a specialized talent like graphic design to lend support to a nonprofit.

Join a Board

Nonprofits are always on the hunt for successful executives to sit on their board. A role like this allows you to steer the direction of the organization and use your network to raise funds for the organization.

Sponsor a Charity Drive

Most entrepreneurs have an extensive network of contacts making running a charity drive for an organization a viable way to give back. In a brick and mortar environment you can run a food, book, toy or clothing drive. Online, you can use your social networks to raise funds for a specific charity. Facebook makes this incredibly easy with a built-in platform for charity drives.

Encourage Employees

Instilling the spirit of paying it forward in your employees is a great reward of being the boss. Have a team building event volunteering at a local organization or give employees a day off to volunteer at the charity of their choosing. By involving other people in the company’s philanthropic efforts, you multiply the effect. Love begets love, and today the world needs all the kindness it can get.

While I certainly hope that I’m leaving a legacy with the company I built, I hope my greatest legacy is the people that business helps along the way.

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