John McMillin: Businesses big or small can profit from giving

Do you have a small business or a large corporation? Here’s something to consider. Investing in your community is an ingenious way to give back to the people who have helped make your business a success.
Aug 10, 2014
John McMillin

Do you have a small business or a large corporation? Here’s something to consider. Investing in your community is an ingenious way to give back to the people who have helped make your business a success. While volunteers and nonprofit organizations do a lot to help our communities, the job is a big one that needs many hands, and the business owner can benefit on more than one level by lending support.

Many of our communities’ successful business owners are steadfast supporters and generous donors for United Way of Wilson County. On many occasions I have heard them pass along a philosophy, which happens to be a passage from Luke, “to whom much is given, much is required.” 

They will tell you that they feel they have a responsibility to help those less fortunate and contribute to the well being of the community. Many people will assign a value to this, but I cannot. I believe giving has to be up to the individual. One of our former board chairs used to tell me he preferred to not give until it hurts, but rather to give until it feels good.

As a former business owner myself, I can attest to the fact that giving back to the community works to not only make your community a better place to live, but to also make your business more successful. It doesn’t matter if you can’t give money; we all have lean times now and then. Still, most everyone can volunteer his or her services, expertise or time.

Personally, I enjoy the feeling I get when I’m able to give whether it’s a cash gift, my time or my not-so-strong back. There are countless studies that show giving back to the community gives a person the feeling of connectedness along with the satisfaction of doing something to make our community a better place.

Moving the needle on important issues that need addressing in our community like early education, feeding the hungry, or assisting our elderly population are only a few areas that UWWC is involved with. On top of the good feeling is the benefit of being able to use the charitable deduction on your income tax. Of course, giving back to the community can better your business profile and even bring more customers or clients.

About this time of year, you’ll notice this paper running dozens of photos of business people presenting financial gifts to charitable organizations which, you have to admit, is great publicity. We have several businesses that include the promise of donating a certain percent of sales profits to a specific charity. It’s a simple and effective marketing tool because Wilson County is a close-knit community, and customers like the sense of being able to combine shopping at home with the idea that their helping others.

As we begin another United Way fundraising season, we hope that new businesses see the value in giving back. Even if you don’t want to give, be open to the idea that your employees may want to and it is your business that will reap the rewards. 

To learn more, visit givetouwwc.org or call the UWWC office at 615-443-1871.

John McMillin is president of United Way of Wilson County. Email him at jmunitedway@bellsouth.net.

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