The Balance ~ Giving vs Receiving ~ is philanthropy part of your business model?

image by Simple Complexities

We talk a lot about the making money part of business.

What we don’t talk about so much is what we DO with that money – specifically, do we keep it to ourselves, or do we incorporate giving back into our business model?

I’m talking about this issue all week on Epheriell Designs, in support of a crafty charity drive for cancer patients that I’m running in July (the #100BeanieDrive), and I wanted to share a few ideas with you all here on Scoutie Girl, too.

I understand the wisdom of keeping all of the money you earn to re-invest into your business in the early days – I think it was Richard Branson who said you should just focus on making money in the beginning, and only think about giving money away when you’re already a success. I admire that guy, and he’s certainly an amazing businessman! But… What do you think about that?

I can see where he’s coming from – but that model of business and life is just not for me. I think giving back (even in a teeny-tiny way) should always be part of our lives and businesses.

But how can you be a philanthropist when you can barely pay your own bills?

Here are a couple of easy ways to give without breaking the bank.

1. Buy handmade
This might sound like a no-brainer, but as part of the New Economy, we help other people like ourselves grow their businesses by buying from them.

So if you make handmade (or hey, even if you don’t!), do the absolute best you can to buy handmade and local – and that way, you’re keeping the money circulating amongst the people, rather than sending it off into the ether of ‘big business.’

I found this happened naturally to me as I became more and more a part of the handmade community. These days, I always go to Etsy first whenever I want anything. It’s permeated other parts of our lives, too, like shopping for fruit and veg at the farmer’s market rather than the supermarket, and buying from small businesses rather than large chains wherever possible. Every little bit helps keep other businesses and lives like mine afloat!

2. Invest in a Kiva Loan
Kiva is my favourite charity… although, it’s kinda not a charity in that you get your money back!

For those of you who have never heard of Kiva, it’s an organisation that allows you to give small loans to micro-businesses all over the world (primarily in developing nations) so that they can either start or grow their own business. Part of the model is that this is a true loan, in that it’s the responsibility of the recipient to pay back all the loans they get over time!

So, if you can spare as little as $25 for a period of time, you will eventually get your money back. However, you might find that you enjoy the feeling of helping grow these businesses so much that you just continue to re-invest that money over and over again!

What I LOVE about this is that you’re not just throwing money at at the symptoms of poverty (hunger, disease, etc.) – you’re actually investing money into the people and their businesses, which helps them help themselves and their communities.

You know, that whole “teach a man to fish” thang.

Brilliant.

3. Create a product of which a percentage of the sale goes to charity
This seems to be a pretty common thing in the handmade community – creating a product or product line that is specifically geared towards promoting and giving to a particular charity.

The great thing about this is you can raise awareness (and funds) about a cause that is close to your heart. And you don’t have to lose money to do so – just make sure you incorporate the donation into the pricing of your item.

Here are a few great examples of this:

with love pillow by Olive Handmade
red fox ring by Angela Grace Jewelry
charity water tee by movementee
photographer mouse by The House of Mouse
chunky cowl by Smoking Haute

How do you feel about making philanthropy a part of your life and business?

Is it already a part of what you do, or is it something you’ve been meaning to make happen in your life?

3 thoughts on “The Balance ~ Giving vs Receiving ~ is philanthropy part of your business model?

  1. This is an interesting thing to think about. I guess I give back from the ground up. I buy most of my supplies from small independent organic fabric designers, who are in turn supporting organic farmers in places like India, allowing them to create a better quality of life for themselves.

  2. My whole basic art “career” has been based on giving back or paying forward.

    Most pieces are donated to silent auctions that benefit individuals with serious medical needs/bills, shops that are supporting womens shelters in my town, and I hope to add an ETSY shop that would give me some actual income to donate.

    It is just the way I like to do it, since GOD gave me my talent, I like to try to give to others who are in need.

  3. Really interesting idea. Business can’t just be about making money – it has to be about more than that. We have a huge emphasis on giving great value for money and trying to impart as much advice and expertise as we can. It all helps!

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