Getting Involved with a Local Charity Can Benefit Society and Your Home-Based Business
By Christopher J. Bachler
Besides running your home business, you need to reach outside your private enclave in order to promote yourself and to make the many contacts you will need. Beyond making your business known, you must also make yourself known. Since you are the business, your business success will ultimately rise or fall on your reputation.
But that’s something you can’t very well demonstrate through an ad. The best way to prove yourself if through your actual business dealings. But how can you prove your mettle to prospective customers before you get their business? One of the best ways is by participating in charity work. Charities tend to draw lots of important people and free publicity. Not only can you make lots of useful contacts and make yourself better known, but you can also demonstrate your capabilities.
Through your participation you can:
• Help raise funds
• Participate in promotional or educational activities
• Render special services that might be needed.
Meeting People and Making Contacts
If your goal is to meet certain types of people, some groups will be better than others. You can’t know what sort of people you’ll meet until you join and see for yourself. But through most charitable causes, you will meet movers and shakers and many of the most prominent and ambitious businesspeople in your community. Indeed, few charitable groups can make it without the help of such prominent civic leaders. Most charities’ local boards of directors are dominated by such folks. And many local business enterprises will also be involved in any number of ways, such as:
• Donating money or equipment
• Hosting special events on their premises
• Actively participating in various fund raising, promotional or educational activities
Even if you don’t meet the people you want, you can still make valuable intermediary contacts through whom you might make many additional contacts.
Charity Work’s Personal Dimension
There’s also a personal dimension to charity work. Entrepreneurs are doers, and doers like to accomplish things. For them, achievement is not just a good feeling, but a necessity. Feeling useful and successful on any level is the psychological tonic that gives such people the sense of peace and satisfaction that helps them through life’s difficulties.
According to aptitude specialists, people need to use all their special aptitudes in order to feel healthy and happy. Failure to do so causes frustration and unhappiness. That’s one reason why entrepreneurs should choose businesses in which they will utilize their special gifts. But since it’s not likely that you will utilize all of your special aptitudes in your work, it’s important that you find other constructive outlets for those pent-up abilities that are dying to be useful.
Charity Work Can Give You That Opportunity
• Pick a charity you believe in. Not only would it be disingenuous to work with a charity to which you’re not attached, but you may lack the enthusiasm to make a really meaningful contribution to the cause. Shop around for something that excites you.
• Avoid controversy. Controversial causes might offend other people—the last thing you want to do! So choose something outside of political or controversial areas. Health-related or civic improvement groups are usually safe bets.
• Over-commit yourself. Charitable participation can be like stepping into a black hole—they’ll be happy to let you do as much as possible, and they might call on you to do even more. So start slowly, see how much you can handle, and be sure to keep your commitments. You want to prove yourself to be a dependable person who honors commitments and performs competently.
• Expect miracles. There’s no guarantee that you will make useful contacts or even get favorable publicity. But even if by some chance you make no tangible business gains, remember two points: (1) You certainly won’t make useful contacts or generate publicity by sitting quietly at home; and (2) No matter what your business gains may be, you can still make an important contribution to a good cause!
Thus, the payoff is guaranteed!
Many groups advertise or post notices in churches or other public places. You’re also likely to hear or read about such groups through the media. The Yellow Pages and the Internet are good places to begin your hunt. Look under various listings such as charities, health charities, or civic groups.
Also try these sources:
Christopher J. Bachler is a 20+-year veteran business writer and editor, based in Drexel Hill, PA.