There’s a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving: friends and family, leftovers, and a long weekend.
Now, I’m Canadian–and although Canadian Thanksgiving is in October, the tenets of the holiday remain the same. One of the most important underpinnings of both Thanksgivings is the idea of giving back and doing good.
As a founders, we have so much to be thankful for. It’s important to always ask ourselves what we can do to give back — to our employees, customers, partners, and communities.
This Thanksgiving and holiday season, I encourage you to find ways to combine profit with purpose. Here are my four favorite ways to do that:
1. Give back by investing your time.
Giving time is one of the easiest and most impactful ways to do good in your community. Plus, you get to see the value of your philanthropy first-hand.
Designate a volunteer day for your entire team. Let them decide what cause they feel most passionate about. At my company, Techstars, we have an annual “#giveback day” where we encourage our employees to give back in their communities. This past year, for example, one of our offices participated in a day to help clean up the local public library.
It was a great way to get the entire office together with the purpose of doing good for the community. It’s always beneficial to create opportunities to get your employees away from their desks, and planning them around helping out those in the community in a positive way in turn can create a more positive work environment for the company.
2. Share your expertise with a local business.
As founders, we often have a very specialized set of skills and a unique perspective with tremendous experience. So why not share those assets with other local business owners in the community? Seek out peers in your community who could use a boost of entrepreneurial problem solving.
Maybe someone on your team is a master of social media and marketing, and can bring thousands of new potential customer eyeballs to a struggling local nail salon. Maybe your operations manager can make sense of any contract under the sun and could lend a hand to someone without a legal background. Offering this kind of pro bono support could mean the world for another business and who knows, maybe you’ll even find your next investment.
3. Find a way for your business model to give back.
Companies like TOMS Shoes and Warby Parker built their businesses on a model of giving back. If that’s not already part of your model, you don’t have to restructure your entire venture — there are plenty of other ways you can adjust your business model to do good.
Start by identifying a cause that makes sense for your company. Finding charitable causes that reflect your corporate values and culture will make it easier to implement and adopt them. Then, talk with that charity or cause directly to determine what would be most impactful for them.
If you choose to support an organization like Ronald McDonald House Charities, for example, find out from the organizers directly if they need money, supplies, or volunteers before your decide for them. Then, adjust your model accordingly.
4. Remember the power of mentorship.
At Techstars, we believe that mentorship is the cornerstone for building success. It creates mutually beneficial relationships and opportunities, and opens new doors for both mentors and mentees.
You can give back to by seeking out new mentorship opportunities in your communities. Forging those kinds of long-term relationships can offer new insights and perspectives for both you and your newest friend.