Should corporations and individuals engage in philanthropy? In 1989, Andrew Carnegie’s advice was to spend the first part of your life getting as much education as possible, spend the second part making all the money you could, and spend the last part giving most of it away. Many successful people follow this recipe.
Sadly, corporate philanthropy is in decline. Charitable contributions by U.S. companies fell 14.5% last year, and over the last 15 years, corporate giving as a percentage of profits has dropped by 50%. The reasons are understandable.
We have been in a recession for a number of years and many companies just had to reconsider the amount they are able to give. If a company is not showing reasonable profits, it could jeopardize their viability.
Like the airline flight attendant who says prior to taking off: “If you are traveling with the elderly or children – put your own mask on first before helping others” – if the company returns are not healthy, they will be less able to help others.
But, all is not bad news. There are many examples of individuals and companies who are stepping up.
Bill Gates and his wife Melinda believe that every life has equal value and started a foundation, donating billions to help all people lead healthy and productive lives. Their outreach extends to more than 100 countries.
Sure there will be cynical people who will say that the only reason corporations give back is to increase business. However, my research says that just isn’t so. Most business leaders get involved in charitable projects because they have a sincere, altruistic attitude, they truly want to help, and they have the financial resources to do so.
Some organizations provide time off so employees can support the charity of their choice. Consequently, those who are given that opportunity often feel more connected to the business.
In fact, the younger generation, when applying for jobs, are actually asking – “What is your corporate policy on philanthropy?” They often make their decision on where to work based on that answer.
My friend, Dr. Nido Qubein, President of High Point University in North Carolina, an entrepreneur, professional speaker, and one of the most giving people I know says: “I believe in investing one-third of my life in learning, one-third in earning, and one-third in serving. Two of the most important outcomes you can have for your life are influence and impact”.
He also says:
“To influence others through stewardship and philanthropy will impact others to lead lives filled with success, happiness, and framed with significance. As the expression goes: Always give without remembering; always receive without forgetting”.
In PEI, for as long as anyone can remember, Ron MacDougall, owner of MacDougall Steel Erectors in Borden-Carlton has always been helping others. Growing up in a missionary family – helping others just became a natural part of his life, his work, and his character.
Not only does he make it a part of his annual business planning and budgeting, he and his wife Gloria donate personal time helping out at their church’s children’s camp – bringing joy to young people who live in less fortunate circumstances.
My question for managers this week: What is your commitment to giving back to the community or world which has blessed each of us so much?
If you are responsible for writing annual performance reviews OR are the direct supervisor of an employee, join us for a webinar called “A Better Alternative to the Annual Performance Review” on September 29th featuring international business transformation specialist, Joe Sherren, CSP, HoF, Fellow GSF.