Several years ago, I had a client, Christine Shock of Shock PR. In one of our coaching sessions, she mentioned that she was passionate about saving the environment, and when she retired or got to a certain milestone in her business, she would dedicate her time to that cause. I suggested that she look at what she could do now.It did not take her long to see that she could include “doing good works” in the PR plan for all of her clients. She would then ask the owner or executive team for each business she worked for, what cause were they passionate about. Then she would help them design a project that would impact that cause. They would support the cause they cared about and as a by-product they would get publicity for doing good work.
In my own business, the Dream Factory Community, we have a New Year’s dinner and an annual conference. We always have a Dream Factory Community member as our nonprofit partner who plans a silent auction in conjunction with each of these events. Event participants come a little early and get to bid on services, opportunities and products, mainly contributed by Dream Factory Community members. In the past, the proceeds have gone to Ben Speaks, an organization that addresses the issues of teen suicide and bullying, the Pan Mass Challenge that supports cancer research at Dana Farber, and AlliancExchange that provides educational scholarships to students in the Amazonian rainforest of Ecuador.
Another great example of “doing good” is a local BNI (Business Network International) chapter in Wellesley called BNI Cachet Club. BNI is the premier networking organization in the world, with more than 6,000 chapters in 57 countries. Each chapter has one person per profession. Within the chapter there are spheres of professions who work together closely and can easily pass business to each other.
Here is an inspiring story from BNI Cachet Club member Vinny Tingley.
“BNI Cachet Club President Joanne Taranto decided to inspire the specific spheres to work together,” said Tingley. “Our home sphere included a Realtor, general contractor, electrician, plumber, painter, arborist, carpeting store and several more.
“Ideas were discussed, including working with existing projects like Habitat for Humanity and local town housing authorities. We decided to work on our own and help a family whose home was in need of repair. We talked about possible families. I mentioned a family that was related to me.
“Kelly and Tim and their three young children live in Natick. In 2009, Kelly’s sister, Stacey in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, tragically died on Mother’s Day. Stacey was the mother of five children. The children went to live with their father in Millis. Tim and Kelly helped their four nieces and nephew out as much as they could and knew that they could provide them with a better living situation. They fought for custody of the kids and won. They have now been living with them for some time. Their house is taking a beating and repairs that are needed are being put off because of lack of time, energy and money.
“After telling this story to the home sphere, it was decided that we should help this family. The family was excited and blown away with the thought of our group helping with home repairs. So we went to work to figure out how best to start a project like this. One of our goals was to do this again for other families in the future.
“In the past six months, we have completed many small repairs, including carpentry, electrical, painting, a new rug, old tree removal and other small tasks. We all volunteered our time, talent, energy and money.
“One major problem with the home is it needed a new roof. This type of project proved to be too much to take on financially, but it was something that could not be ignored. So once again, we put our heads together. One of the members knew someone from the Natick Home Depot and helped to get the roofing materials donated by the store for the family. The next problem was paying for the labor, which Home Depot does not supply. Another member came up with the idea of a silent auction to be held during one of our meetings to raise money. We loved the idea of getting our entire chapter in on the project.
“So we all rallied to create a silent auction to be held during a regular meeting. This was a very successful and powerful BNI networking event, as we got together as a group with a common goal, giving and helping, which is in the spirit of BNI’s philosophy of Givers Gain. We raised enough money to make the repairs and the project will be completed over the next month or so.
“The family has been continually blown away by the generosity of the BNI Cachet Club in Wellesley. Each of us has gained a sense of how community can work together to help each other. We have all had an expanded experience of what is possible through generosity, teamwork and commitment. I think everyone involved has an inner sense of gratitude for the opportunity to provide a better, safer environment for this deserving family.
“Yes, Givers Gain — but sometimes it’s hard to tell who are the givers and who are the receivers. In this case, we all benefitted.”
In conclusion, as we have seen evidenced, businesses can do — and should do — good. It is more important than ever as business owners to create our own “doing good” programs, and reap the rewards of generosity, teamwork and commitment.