Richard Branson once said ‘if you aren’t making a difference in other people’s lives you shouldn’t be in business -it’s that simple’

Many would agree with this perspective and yet it may be one that divides professionals in business at some level. The majority would agree that their product or service needs to tackle and resolve a problem that people are seeking a solution to. However, it’s how professionals operate that starts to expose some conflicts.

There are differing motivations and forms of approach out there in the business world. For some, they merely want to have the freedom to run their business successfully enough to pay the bills and have enough profit to service a lifestyle that looks after family beyond mere survival. Others want to make a boatload of money and be hugely successful, with a more lavish lifestyle.

Then there are those who are more purpose driven in that they care about humanity and the wider world and really seek to align their business with meeting those needs so the world can be a truly better place at all levels of operation.
Many of us have witnessed the good, the bad and the indifferent in business. Even good intentions in business practice can derail under pressure such as cash flow if left unchecked.

What has become more evident is that the practice of launching a product or service out there, followed by aggressive marketing and persuasion tactics to make the customer buy, is becoming less successful and more redundant. We cannot simply operate a business in a way that makes the customer fit our product.

The return to a more socially conscious approach to business is gaining traction and reaping lasting rewards. Forbes has recently warned that businesses who ignore a certain trend will not last beyond the next 4-7 years. So it would appear that critical re-evaluation is required to make sure we are truly serving those who seek our solution, and not the other way round.

Forbes was alluding to something that can be described as strategic philanthropy – combining making money through doing good. Of course this has many different expressions.

I recall when I first came across this expression in my mastermind group I was unclear as to its meaning. However, since childhood, I had been clear about wanting to deploy my gifts and talents in a way that could help humanity on a larger scale, particularly those who were stuck in survival issues.

But beyond spontaneous acts of giving and small projects along the way, I struggled to weave them both together for so many years, due to low income.

The idea of working simply to have a decent lifestyle and acquire material things for my own pleasure always felt short of appealing. People mattered to me more than things, but I did dream about having abundant resources so that I could contribute to humanity in a big way.

However as much as I got into structured giving such as sponsoring a child in Kenya and the Philippines for a few years, along with spontaneous acts of giving, I struggled with the money side of things, largely due to low income. I was by some descriptions a broke philanthropist.

My money story and struggles meant that there was always this glass ceiling in my mind just above my head, and for many years I felt trapped by that.It restricted my capacity to give.

I remember a few years ago listening to Angelina Jolie’s acceptance speech when given a humanitarian award. She spoke of two things – gratitude and pain. Her gratitude was that she considered herself fortunate to have grown up in an environment where she could discover and develop her gifts and talents; at the same time to use the resulting wealth to support her philanthropic desires, which go beyond merely giving money to support causes.

Her pain was that somewhere across the globe was a woman with similar gifts and talents, except that she lived in a refugee camp, with no voice to her name or roof over her head; for whom each day was about working out how to stay alive and keep her children alive.

Her pain was that somewhere across the globe was a woman with similar gifts and talents, except that she lived in a refugee camp, with no voice to her name or roof over her head; for whom each day was about working out how to stay alive and keep her children alive.

When I heard this it made me cry because it spoke to a similar gratitude and pain that had been an undercurrent within me for so many years. However, my cultural and educational upbringing along with the many messages coming out of the church I attended at the time, such as money being the root of evil, rendered me in a state of constant conflict. Beyond being broke I felt that my dream was broken. Maybe you can relate.

But the dream never left me, and as I look back over the last 10 years I can see recall the turning point and processes that have brought me to where I am now. It has been fascinating to observe how I managed to evolve and close that gap significantly.

Like many business owners, I got stuck in a time for money trap with my coaching services, which limited the delivery of value, and whilst I have since rebranded, the real journey that prefaced this was so much deeper, and one of personal transformation based on acknowledging and building around core values in a deeper way.

Out of that, I have now birthed my own inspirational book Breaking Free. I also find myself co-hosting this year’s Strategic Philanthropy Global Summit with Tom Matzen, speaking with highly successful entrepreneurs who have learned to combine doing good with making money at the same time.

There were no coincidences in how this opportunity came to me. Furthermore, it has provided another platform from which to evaluate how I develop, shape and direct strategic philanthropy in my own business.

If you want a context to re-evaluate your business given what Forbes has said, please why not join us at The Strategic Philanthropy Global Summit. Come and get inspired, connect and collaborate. It is free to register and listen in live.

The recordings will be available for sale thereafter, with half the gross proceeds going to KIVA microloans. You can see all the details here for the event which kicks off on Tuesday 13th June 2017. See you there?

Anita Narayan

About Breaking Free Unlimited

As Founder of Breaking Free Unlimited and best selling author of Breaking Free, Anita empowers entrepreneurs to break free from a life of stagnation, unearth the treasure of joy and purpose, and acquire the master keys for true fulfilment, freedom, and inspirational legacy