Successfully Balancing Business and Philanthropy

Have you ever had the feeling you were being pulled in a million directions at once? For the modern female entrepreneur, this feeling is so prevalent that it almost seems abnormal NOT to have an endless list of tasks logged into their Blackberries.

For several generations now, female business owners and executives have found themselves in a tugging match between family and work life. While society continues to put emphasis on women as the foundation of the family, the business world continues to expect them to give 110% in the board room or at the storefronts.

Finding a balance between the two is not an easy task, and it often takes years of hard work to finally achieve it. Ultimately, many women feel that the greatest lesson is understanding that they are unable life a fulfilling life with one more prominent than the other.

Benefit Your Business, Benefit the World

Maybe it’s because this balance can be so tenuous that most female business owners and entrepreneurs find themselves at a loss when it comes to contributing to their community and the world through philanthropic work. With so much going on in their personal and work lives, who really has time to devote a sizable portion of money, attention and time to community and world causes? However, philanthropy is a wonderful and fulfilling opportunity for women to benefit themselves, their companies and the world at large.

Philanthropic work is the act of contributing to those in need. While family is often the core of a women’s being, and business is what pushes her to greater success, it’s philanthropic work that connects her to her community and the world.

As the economy downshifts and global problems affect us on personal levels (just take a trip to the local supermarket or gas station to see for yourself), it is becoming more important for businesses to engage in philanthropic work to benefit both their own organizations and the world.

The Elements of Philanthropic Success

You don’t have to have a life-changing experience to embark on philanthropic work, and doing good for your community and the world doesn’t have to detract from other areas of your life. In order to find a healthy balance of philanthropy and business, women must consider several questions before embarking on a goal.

First of all, ask yourself if your business strong enough to begin directing efforts towards philanthropic goals. Business owners need to take it slow during the first years of opening their business and understand that initially your business will need to come first.

While everyone would love to immediately start giving back to their communities and the world, it’s important to make sure that your business is established and healthy before you begin shifting your attention to philanthropic work. To put it plainly, it takes a healthy, well-established business to generate the necessary revenue to put towards philanthropic pursuits. Without that, the chain breaks down.

Open Your Eyes to New Opportunities

Another question women must address is what type of philanthropy they would like to engage in. There are literally thousands of regional, national and global causes out there that deserve attention. Finding the right one can sometimes be a daunting task, and while many female entrepreneurs opt to go with the biggest name or most popular cause, careful research can reveal options that are better suited to your own goals.

Finding out what the cause or charity accomplishes and how your business best fits with their mission will pay off in the long-term as you form a lasting partnership with them. Don’t be afraid to take a risk or view things from a different perspective to find ways to give back. Maybe your choice of charity is off the beaten track. Keep an open mind, and it will open your eyes to horizons you never could have dreamed of before.

Doing Business for the Right Reasons

Finally, owners and entrepreneurs must ask themselves if they are pursing philanthropy for the right reasons. It’s wonderful to find a charity or cause that will complement your business, but there are many causes that are not being recognized because they are simply not as “appealing” from a business perspective.

That’s the difference between honestly giving and simply perfecting your PR image. While both types of charity do good, it will ultimately benefit your business if you help the causes that you personally believe need the most attention.

Establish a Plan to Do the Most Good

After you’ve decided on the philanthropic work you’d like to pursue, it’s time to decide how you can contribute and in what capacity. If you choose to give financially, review your financial outlook or work with your finance department to construct a realistic contribution budget that what works best for your individual company.

However, philanthropy goes far beyond simple monetary donations. It's not that writing a check isn't appreciated; it is. But it is the personal engagement that changes not only those you reach out to, but also changes you. Reaching out to a charity or cause through personal engagement can be a much more fulfilling option for yourself (and your employees). Work with your chosen charity or cause to find out how you can become personally involved in their mission, whether through fundraising, programs or events---the possibilities are endless.

Now more than ever, women entrepreneurs and business-owners must keep the global perspective in mind as they work to benefit their companies. You don’t have to be a celebrity or a multi-millionaire to make a difference. And you can find a perfect balance between family, work and philanthropy. It is amazing how when you do business for the right reasons, things come together and take off.

This article was written by Christopher Palumbo is the founder and brand director for elements for women, a fitness and lifestyle brand. It originally appeared on

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