So many causes need help that it can be difficult to choose just one. That is why I use a "carousel of care" approach to guide my own philanthropy.
Is it really possible that the fate of the planet lies in your hands?
As an entrepreneur, you know firsthand that your actions impact not only your life but the lives of others. Today, thanks to the conscious capitalism movement, entrepreneurs are increasingly recognizing that they have the opportunity to elevate humanity through business.
William James once wrote: "Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does."
So the critically important question is, what actions can you take as an entrepreneur to make a difference – or even change the planet?
Introducing the carousel of care
One of the most powerful ways to create positive change in the world is to support meaningful charities with financial donations. The challenge, however, is that so many causes need help that it can be difficult, if not overwhelming, to choose just one.
I use a "carousel of care" approach to guide my own philanthropy. Instead of supporting just one cause, each month we donate to a different charity that's particularly in need or is significant to me, my team members or our clients.
For example, when Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma hit last year, we donated to Direct Relief, You Caring, and other relief-related causes. When a family member of one of my team members was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, we gave to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. When a client was having mental health issues, we gave to the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.
By choosing different charities each month, we personalize our philanthropy to what is most vital to us. It enables us to be conscious of and react to what's going on the world, which makes our giving that much more meaningful.
If you want to increase your impact by implementing your own "carousel of care," here are three simple steps to finding the right charities for you.
1. Make a list.
An easy starting point is to simply create a list of the issues that are most important to you, your employees, your clients and your community. Ask people for ideas, write down your own, and ultimately make a list of the 10 or so biggest issues that matter to you and your company – like a disease that has affected a loved one or an environmental issue that concerns you.
If you need help finding meaningful causes to support, try searching Google for topics such as "the world’s biggest challenges" or "top 10 leading causes of death," and you'll uncover a lot of good information and ideas to give you some direction.
2. Do your homework.
Once you have your initial set of meaningful causes, start researching the best charities dedicated to them.
Charity Navigator is an excellent resource to find and evaluate top-rated charities. It provides a four-star rating system based on each charity’s financial performance, including its percentage of total expenses spent on services as well as compensation of the organization’s leaders.
Determining the quality of the charities you support is crucial. Not every nonprofit is created equal. For example, you'll want to differentiate between a charity that devotes 90 percent of its funds directly to the cause and one that deploys only 20 percent to the cause but pays its founder $1 million a year.
3. Decide and donate.
After you've identified charities you believe in and have confirmed they're legit, it’s time to give! Visit their websites and donate whatever amount you and your team have determined – a flat amount, a percentage of your monthly profits, etc.
Each month, rinse and repeat.
Once you've donated, share what you're doing with your team, your clients, on your website and on social media. Not only does this create goodwill with your supporters, but it can also magnify your impact by inspiring interest in your cause from new potential donors and advocates.
Bottom line, it's easy to become an impact entrepreneur and immediately start making a difference. How big a difference is up to you. Just remember that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and the fate of the world really is in your hands.