Why Giving Back Is an Integral Part of Entrepreneurial Life
For both freelancers and employees, giving back to society and the economy was once perceived as a mission designated only for non-profit organizations. However, the crisis awakened by the outbreak of COVID-19 acted as a wake-up call for many. It convinced business owners to broaden their perception of the world around them — aiming to maintain their lifetime achievement during these harsh times but also helping others.
Entrepreneurs giving back to society and the economy isn’t about nice gestures and tax deductions. It serves a superior goal — it’s one of the most effective ways to bounce back from an economic decline, even more than governments can do on their own. Here’s a good example:
In 2010, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Melinda Gates launched the ‘Giving Pledge’ initiative. This idea started thanks to them coming to the conclusion that further financial activities in favor of their businesses wouldn’t have a chance to promote the welfare and happiness of people. ‘Giving Pledge’ gathered around 200 millionaires as followers, which altogether donated around 500 billion USD by 2019. In comparison, the COVID recovery package the EU supplied for the residents of Europe in 2020 summed up to 590 billion USD. It’s clear that wealthy individuals have the ability to contribute as much as entire countries can.
‘Giving Pledge’ demanded only two conditions from its contributors: To donate more than half of their wealth and publicly claim their donation.
Entrepreneurs can do it better
The reason that ‘Giving Pledge’ succeeded in achieving its goals has much to do with the fact that acting for these purposes requires strengths that successful entrepreneurs already have:
- It demands them to analyze a situation quickly and reliably, transforming it into strategies, courses of action, and real-time performance evaluation.
- It frees them to turn choices into actions and translate abstract ideas into measurable goals in the medium and short term.
- It allows efficient feedback and adaptability to changes in everyday situations.
- It requires top negotiation skills. Of course, the more famous the contributors are, the easier it is for them to negotiate. Needless to say, those who are renowned for being successful businessmen and businesswomen probably had strong negotiation skills in the first place.
It’s true that we pay taxes to our government to fund all the matters we find important, such as helping people who can’t help themselves. However, contradictory interests inside parliaments tend to cause positive initiatives to dissolve. In the US, for example, Republicans and Democrats disagreed on how COVID compensations should be distributed, and even on who’s entitled to these funds in the first place. The EU faced a similar debate and disagreement between the southern and northern members of the union. This happened since the pandemic struck the southern members of the union more severely than their north-European counterparts.
Following the footsteps of Rockefeller
Not many of us indeed can contribute as much as Bill Gates. However, taking inspiration from other great contributors can encourage us to walk in their footsteps and do it according to our ability.
Entrepreneurial philanthropy isn’t a new ‘thing’. Looking back, We can see that Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller were great advocates of this measure. Carnegie was responsible for building numerous institutions he named after himself, such as the well-known Carnegie Hall. Rockefeller solved some major issues by promoting the education of women of color. Both of them did something for the greater good. Did they benefit from it? Maybe. Yet, the most dominant benefit they earned from these actions probably filled the hearts of others rather than filling their pockets.
It’s true, not all entrepreneurs have plenty of spare credit. However, remember that John D. Rockefeller started his charitable actions at the age of 16, when he began his career as a novice accountant. He started by donating 6% of his income. This altruist young man, needless to mention, grew to be the richest American who ever lived.
Carry the beacon
I believe the entrepreneurial spirit can contribute to business and much more. I believe in pursuing a greater good. I think it’s the moral duty of every entrepreneur to return some of their benefits back to society, which mediates the attraction of those benefits in the first place. Having said that, can you imagine a better time to express your love for others than helping them in a crisis?