Greg Secker: Confessions of a philanthropist

Why doing good is good for business

I have a confession to make: I like to do good. As both a charity founder and avid business man, for me the difference between doing business and doing good is not that much.

We only need to look at the millennial generation to see this playing out. Millennials are a group that has long been heralded not by money, but by the motivation to make a difference. When we then consider that they’re due to make-up a whopping 75 per cent of the workforce by 2025, isn’t it time businesses started to listen up a little more?

Simply put, when a growing segment of the workforce is willing to take a pay cut to find work that matches their values, what good business looks like surely has to change.

It’s not just millennials that value the feel-good factor of business either. In recent research conducted by the Greg Secker Foundation, more than two in five of us (41 per cent) believe UK businesses should be doing more for charities. But, what does ‘doing more’ mean for business?

Well our study showed that if a business gives 5 per cent of its annual profits to charity, nearly a fifth of us Brits are more likely to recommended that business to friends and family, or use it over a competitor (20 per cent agree with this).

But despite the facts, figures today show businesses are not giving back. Typically because social responsibility is not a core business focus and the profit margin, well, simply is.

In reality, when pitted against the bottom line, charity – or giving back to the community – loses out. In tough economic times, or especially for small businesses, giving back is an area most likely to be pushed down the priority list. That, I would argue, is because businesses are underestimating the monetary benefits philanthropy can generate: a more dedicated workforce, better talent, and improved corporate reputation to name just a few.

Even for businesses just starting out the importance of giving back should be considered and acted upon. Good reputation goes a long way in terms of social currency. By building goodwill with your customers, you ensure there are people who believe in your business and the values that it stands for.

Whether you like it or not, as a business owner, you have a responsibility. As a successful company – that has grown that has grown thanks to your workforce and customers – you have a duty to help the common good. Not only does this type of work enrich the quality of life of our global community, but it improves employees’ quality of life.

The saying goes that every little helps, but it truly does. So, while giving 5 per cent might feel like a long shot for some organisations, you can give much less and still do good. For instance, Pledge 1% is a corporate philanthropy movement that encourages businesses to pledge 1 per cent of equality, product and employee time to their communities.

Beyond giving a portion of your profits, there are other ways to promote philanthropy:

  • If you cannot give money, give time. Never underestimate the value of a charity day – for both the local community and as a team-building exercise for your staff. Try allocating at least one day a year for your employees to give back.
  • Depending upon your line of business, you might be able to consider taking on one or two pro bono clients – charities or NGOs – that you support free of charge. These can often make great case studies too, so helps give back to the business simultaneously.
  • Consider sponsoring a charity event. Not only does this give you great publicity, but also it’s an ideal opportunity to network with like-minded individuals.

 

To all my budding do-gooders, here’s hoping that you soon have a similar confession to make.

By Greg Secker, founder of the Greg Secker Foundation

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