Giving back is an act that I have worked into the fabric of my business. Why? Basically, I want to be a responsible human being and help make the world a better place. I am grateful for the opportunity to work hard to build a business that supports myself, my family, and my team, and I recognize – always – that not everyone in the world has that opportunity. So I certainly see it as my responsibility to give back when, if, and how I can.
There are also some big benefits that come with making giving a part of your business model, such as tax benefits and creating a brand culture of integrity, not to mention the warm fuzzies you get when you’re building a business that helps save trees/refugees/children—planet Earth and all that live here. You’re building something that can make a real positive impact in the world.
One of my favorite aspects of running my own business is that I have the opportunity to create a business model that serves me and my causes, as well as the ceilingless possibilities of unlimited earning potential.
So, why not combine those things: my want to give back and the business model that I’m free to create however I wish, to use my boundary-less growth to help causes far larger of myself.
Now, that’s building something I can be proud of—and it’s something I’m working towards every day.
Here are some ways that you can work giving back into your business model:
Give a percentage or flat rate of all revenue or profits
The most straight-forward way is to name—up front—a percentage or flat rate of sales or profits that you’re willing to give to your cause. This—in many ways—can be the easiest way to make giving a part of your model, as it’s a simple standard you’ll place on every sale you make in your business.
- I will give 15% of all revenue
- I will give $1 for every product sold
- I will give 10% of all profit
Hold seasonal giving sales
If you can’t commit to giving for all sales all year, you can choose to do so seasonally, and can even work it into the holiday calendar. This may be a way for you to give more during your busy times, or encourage your creative community to support you and your cause during slow seasons in your business.
Now, just because I call it a sale doesn’t mean that you have to also discount what you’re selling, you can simply designate those sales (products or services being purchased) as counting towards your season of giving back.
- 50% of all profits for the month of December
- Plant a tree for every Spring purchase
Create a single product with a sharing model
In this model, instead of applying a blanketed percentage or flat rate across all money your business brings in, you can create a single product or service that supports your cause.
- Create a line of products with a percentage of profits going towards a cause
- Create a service with a flat rate of the price being donated
At Indie Shopography, this is the model that we have chosen. For our Toolkits service—a subscription to marketing and management tips for online business owners, we donate 25% of all revenue to a cause. This allows us to choose a slightly greater percentage to give per purchase, and because it’s a recurring subscription product, we’re able to make a bigger impact for the causes we commit to.
Do pro bono work
Another option for giving back that isn’t tied directly to giving money is in giving products or services to a good cause. As a web designer, I’ve worked with non-profit organizations to help get their brand and website online, helping them grow what they’re doing. I didn’t get paid money for this work, but I was helping out an organization, and got a tax write-off in return. Sometimes what an organization needs is less about money and more about the services or products that you offer.
- Donate your services
- Give products
- Help organize an event
Much like the model of TOMs, you can develop your products to give one for every one sold. This model can involve more work to implement, but has a more obvious return in terms of seeing what your support is doing for a person or community.
BONUS: Make it easy for your employees to give
If you’re a boss who’s also the boss of some employees, make it easy for your employees to give back, too! At Indie Shopography, we use Gusto – a payroll service that makes it easy for ourselves and our employees to give back from their paycheck. It’s just another way to add giving to the culture of your brand.
BONUS #2: Read Start Something that Matters
If you’re looking for an inspiring book to help you brainstorm ways to work giving into your business model, I recommend you check out Start Something that Matters by Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMs. It’s a good read, and I’m sure it will give you some ideas for how you can use your business to do something that matters, too.
Now that you’ve gotten some ideas for how you can build giving into your business model, I hope you’ll begin to re-imagine the impact your business can make in the world—not only in your life, but in the lives of everyone here.
You have the power to use your business for every bit of good you ever imagined, you just have to begin taking the steps to set your business up to make it as impactful as you wish.