An Entrepreneur's Guide to Giving Back
It can be hard to give back as an entrepreneur. Depending on where you are in your entrepreneurial journey you could be strapped for cash, time or both. I get it, I've been there. So what do you give when you feel like you have nothing left to give?
I grew up in a house where giving back was part of life. My parents volunteered extensively and often used their vacation time to give back. It sounds so awful now, but I recall complaining because I had to work in a Mexican orphanage during my vacation break---I was a selfish teen and wanted to be hanging at the beach with my friends, not volunteering with my parents.
As an adult, I'm grateful for my childhood and the values my parents instilled in me. As a business person, I want to be effective. My mom was preparing for a trip to the Philippines to work with former sex trafficking victims in a shelter. I recall someone warning her that she was wasting her time, that those victims would simply go back to the only life they knew. True to form, my mother responded graciously, "I feel called to help them, I must do what is right regardless of the outcome." My mother is right, we should make a decision each and every day to do what is right, but the business person in me wants lasting change. Thankfully, when it comes to giving back there is a place for every type of giver, from the selfless person that spends time physically serving, to the celebrity that brings attention and awareness to important issues. How can you give back?
Decide on a cause. I am personally concerned about the lack of resources for sex trafficking victims. Some girls who are victimized by sex trafficking are further traumatized because there are so few safe houses where they can receive support to heal. In fact, in some areas, they've been kept in lock up because there was no where else to put them.
Decide what you have to give. It can be anything from canned goods, a day at the soup kitchen, a financial commitment, a Facebook donation request in lieu of birthday presents, or gifts in kind from your business (Everyone needs office supplies, so this is a great fit for See Jane Work.)
Decide on an organization. I decided on See the Girl (I'll tell you more about them at the end), because of their comprehensive approach to prevention, intervention, and rehabilitation for young women and girls. Your decision could be different based on the cause you choose, and what and how you are able to give. My best friend, and fellow entrepreneur, Mary Beth traveled to Costa Rica this year to work with underprivileged youth. In the past she organized a fun run, and a girl's day out packaging at the food bank.
Reevaluate each year. Every year you should review and adjust your business plan, and the same goes for your giving plan. As your time or financial means change, so might your approach to giving.
How and why I help See the Girl
I was thrilled to be introduced to the Dolores Barr Weaver Policy Center, commonly referred to as See the Girl. They have a comprehensive program that is improving the outcomes for at-risk girls. They provide ground-breaking research, advocacy, training and model programming that protects girls and young women. They advocate in schools and courtrooms, as well as providing highly-needed, intense therapy services without cost restrictions or session limits.
A recent notable accomplishment was a child marriage ban in Florida. In many states parents could allow the marriage of a child as young as 12 to a man of ANY age, See the Girl successfully lobbied to have this law changed in Florida and many other states are following.
Here are some other notable accomplishments:
- Passed 5 laws in partnership with the Children's Campaign
- Served more than 2,000 girls & young women
- Established partnership with Georgetown University to launch a certificate program
- Trained more than 1900 professionals
- Their program areas have experienced a 57% reduction in girls' incarceration, out-performing statewide reduction of 16%
- Signature program, Girl Matters: It's Elementary, resulted in 90% reduction of suspension for vulnerable girls
I've been able to support this organization by providing journals for the girls, my organizational skills, office supplies for staff, and my voice for their cause. Below is a link to donate or learn more about See the Girl and how you can help!
Here are some images from our recent visit to their offices to help organize and provide much needed supplies.
In love with her new See Jane Work desk accessories.
Teaching See the Girl team how to organize paperwork quickly with the See Jane Work Poly Paperwork Organizer.
I had so much fun helping out! Giving back is as good for you as it is for them.
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