How to Give Back Through Your Business

Have you ever wished for a way to give that’s integrated with your life and your work? EO Oklahoma City member Piyush Patel exemplifies the entrepreneur who has figured out how to do just this. He has managed to seamlessly weave charity into his life and businesses through social entrepreneurship, employee volunteer programs and much more.

Piyush offers these tips on how to prioritize and embrace giving during the course of your entrepreneurial journey.

Identify the issue you are passionate about—and be open to unexpected opportunities to fulfill your giving goals

Piyush’s background is in elementary education. So, he has three areas of focus for giving: education, children and mothers. In fact, as the keynote speaker at the University of Oklahoma graduation in 2017, Piyush paid off one of the graduate’s student debts.

“When I joined EO almost 10 years ago, my Forum did an activity around bucket lists. We had different categories and one was philanthropy. I wrote down, ‘Put a stranger through college.’ I had no idea how I was going to even do something like that. However, when I was asked to give the commencement speech, just a few days before the speech I walked out of the shower and told my wife this would be a perfect time to accomplish that bucket list item.”

Create sustainable giving through social entrepreneurship

One-off giving opportunities make a mark, but ongoing giving amplifies your impact. You can even create self-sustaining giving. Consider Piyush’s Conclusion Wine company, a social entrepreneurial venture that just keeps giving.

“I was lucky enough to sell my previous company for a large exit and instead of moving to the beach we decided to start a number of new companies. The winery is our social venture where we craft an amazing wine that is then sold at a high price and instead of keeping the money we donate all of it to a non-profit each year,” he explains.

Piyush Patel is one of many EO members who are using their work to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals. His work in technical education advances inclusive and equitable quality education opportunities for all.

Piyush suggests you can also make giving part of an existing company through the work you are doing, “My previous company, Digital-Tutors, provided advanced technical education to many countries where this education was not even imaginable.”

Acknowledge how giving benefits you

Giving is good for you, and it’s OK to admit it. Piyush explains that charity fulfills his deep need to be part of something bigger, bonds our employees and is simply the right thing to do.

Lead by example

Make your impact grow exponentially by cultivating a giving culture in your business. How? Lead by example.

“It has to start with you, the leader,” Piyush says. “I wove giving into my company with things like volunteering the day before the Christmas holiday (after all, no work is getting done on that day anyway), creating a supply drive to get school supplies for kids (I would match all donations), or packing food at the food bank as a team-building exercise.”

Not only are you and your team fulfilling a charitable goal, you’re also supporting team growth. Piyush explains, “In my experience, creating these shared experiences outside of the office has a huge impact in how people treat each other in the office. They see their roles as bigger than themselves and see how their impact in the community matters.”

Piyush’s book, Lead Your Tribe, Love Your Work: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Creating A Culture that Matters, reinforces how to lead by example by giving to your employees.

“The book—as well as my speaking events—are really focused on how to transform the lives of your employees. I want to teach other leaders and founders how to not only reach your business goals but also transform the lives of the people who you trust the most to reach those goals. I feel we have a duty to create belonging, affirmation and meaning for our employees and I love teaching others how to do this,” he says.

Revisit your inspiration 

It can be challenging to stay motivated in your giving, especially if like Piyush, you have been actively participating in charity from a very young age. He began his giving efforts as a teen, as the only male candy striper at a local hospital.

Wherever you find your inspiration, make sure it is a place or person that you can always look back on. Refer back to it when you need to replenish your giving tank.

Start small, as long as you start

Still not sure where to start? Piyush also reminds us that charity exists in the small and simple everyday acts of kindness.

“In each of our wine bottles, the cork features a message with a random act of kindness. One day, the one I had in my pocket was ‘Buy a Stranger a Cup of Coffee.’ I was getting a Starbucks coffee and while waiting in line, a guy cut to the front and then looked at me since I was next. You could cut the tension. Who would go next?

“I stepped up, put in my order and then turned around to ask him what he was drinking. I paid for his coffee and he looked at me with a weird look on his face. Here he was cutting in front of me and now I’m buying his coffee? I gave him my cork and told him to pass it on to the next person. Not only did he shake my hand and say sorry, but when he left he made it a point to say goodbye. I know this is super simple, but in that moment he transformed from a rushed, unhappy person to a thankful and grateful person. I have to think he had a better day because of that small act.”

Piyush Patel‘s commitment to sustainable giving and advancing educational opportunities for all has earned him a nomination for EO Global Citizen of the Year. 

 

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