After marrying into a family of doctors and founding a physician-focused financial practice, I had the opportunity to work day in and day out with dedicated, selfless caregivers. Witnessing their generosity, I was posed with a nagging question: Am I taking more than I am giving?
The journey to answer this question reframed my practice’s mission, inspired the creation of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and convinced me that charitable giving can be a powerful driving force behind our professional goals as advisors. As your business succeeds, ask yourself who succeeds with it. By creating strong charitable initiatives within our organizations, we can transform the impact of our professional achievements.
The Give Sight Global Story
My mission to give back developed into the nonprofit organization Give Sight Global, a charity that sponsors eyeglasses and cataract surgeries all over the world. After volunteering with the University of Utah Moran Eye Center Outreach in Tanzania and the Navajo Nation alongside a client, I learned about the tragic effects of lack of vision care, which led to more than 1 billion cases of curable blindness worldwide.
Initially, my business partner and I founded Give Sight Global as a charity to donate a portion of our business profits to provide vision care to those who live in underserved areas. As the cause generated more and more interest from our business community, we decided to expand our network of supporters and donors by developing the Give Sight wellness app.
The Give Sight mobile app tracks users’ workout data and matches every 120 calories burned with a $1 donation from corporate sponsors, including our financial practice. Along with our advisory group, numerous organizations have adopted the app as an employee wellness initiative and charitable giving tool. Now, we have set an ambitious 10-year goal for Give Sight Global: to fund enough vision restoration for 1 million people. The Give Sight app maintains its momentum by allowing users to directly partake in their company’s charitable efforts.
Create A Companywide Mission
The words “business” and “philanthropy” might bring to mind the image of a CEO handing a giant check to charity. Although donating to a good cause is always worthwhile, this model of philanthropy usually fails to engage the average employee. When your team has no stake in a charitable goal, all the donations in the world will not affect the culture of your practice.
If you want to make charity a central focus of your practice, instead of an afterthought, it is critical that everyone in your organization feel involved in the mission. Each member of your team should be able to connect their personal or professional achievements to the larger goal. In addition, the more tangible the impact of their efforts feels, beyond a mere dollar amount, the more meaningful the work will be.
The strategy of Give Sight Global hinges on the number of people we assist, which can be applied to any cause: the number of meals provided, the number of children for whom you’ve sponsored schooling, the number of water wells constructed, etc.
Purpose-Driven Teams Perform
Contributions to a worthy cause do not have to be a sacrifice for your business. Rather than overshadowing the work of advising or undermining our profitability, our team’s philanthropic mission does the exact opposite.
Establishing an ambitious charitable goal can help you focus your goals, energize your team and enhance your workplace culture. Initiatives can also be positive differentiators for prospective clients and new hires. As an advisor, you build trust with clients by establishing who you are and what motivates you beyond financial gain. Sustained charitable efforts can illustrate your values as a company and motivate and unify your team.
Although I encourage all advisors to think big when it comes to philanthropic initiatives, you don’t have to transform your business overnight. Take small steps to expand the impact of your business and explore the skills, connections and resources that your network has to offer. By investing in the betterment of your community — local or global — you can pursue professional success while advancing the public good.