Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Giving Back or Paying It Forward

I worked late last night with a new client. We started talking about corporate responsibility and giving back to the community. So I ask you: What is a company's responsibility to the community?

I fund several projects locally, focusing on CommunityFest. I doubt I get much in the way of new clients for the money I invest. Maybe a few of my regular clients get a warm and fussy when they see their tax guy sponsoring events.

A company lives in the community and owes its existence to the people therein. There is a duty, responsibility, and debt businesses must acknowledge. My business lives because the people spend their hard earned dollars with me. It is not an obligation, but a sincere desire to give back that motivates me. I try to place my money where the younger generation benefits, my way of paying-it-forward.

Here is the hard part. I receive about 250 requests per year from non-profit or community events. Giving $100 to each would set me back 25k, no chump change. Sometimes I get chewed out for not giving at least a little to (fill in the blank) charity. "It's for the kids, police, or fireman," I am told. I know. Still, I chose who I donate to. I tend to give larger amounts to fewer organizations. That is my choice.

A business that has the ability to help the community should consider helping at a level the owners feel comfortable with. It is not a requirement, but a nice thank you gesture to the community.

Don't berate me because I say no. Respect my decision and call again next year. Many of my choices to contribute are made before you even call, based on our previous contact. If you ride me, I remember. If you are rude I will never contribute. I want to give. I do give. A lot.

And thank you to all that made it possible.

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