Stop Giving Back #JustGiveNow

I hate the phrase ‘giving back’.

Why? Because I feel it’s hindering charitable giving and accelerating the destruction of the planet.

I realise you may disagree, be shocked or confused by this statement. Let me explain.

The literal meaning of the phrase to ‘give back’ is to return what doesn’t belong to us to its rightful owner. Would you agree? Obviously, as individuals, businesses or countries, if we have things that don’t belong to us then, of course, the right thing to do is to give them back.

Likewise, when our lives have been touched by personal tragedy it may feel right to want to do something to express our gratitude or to become an advocate for change.

But nowadays ‘giving back’ is also commonly used to express our desire to give to charity, to contribute to society or make a difference in the world–in a more general sense.

I’m a huge advocate of giving. The main issue I have with ‘giving back’ is that so many people think they need to wait until they have time or money BEFORE they give.

It seems the literal meaning we learn as young children unconsciously feeds the belief that the need to have or have received something before giving back.

I often meet business owners and entrepreneurs who think they need to wait until their business is making money before giving to charity. Have you ever felt this way?

That was the advice I got when starting out and continued to believe until I discovered the opposite is true: doing good and supporting causes can be a powerful way to GROW your business. No matter what stage of business you are at.

Waiting to ‘give back’ could be too late! 

Waiting until a better time to give could be too late for many reasons.
  • You can’t recover time you choose not to spend with loved ones.
  • We can’t bring back extinct species but we can stop killing off more.
  • People, charities and social causes in your community need your help right now.
  • Endless humanitarian crises, natural disasters, and conflicts around the world cause unimaginable suffering. You’ll hopefully never experience for this yourself but you can help those in desperate need now.
  • The way we as humans are polluting and pillaging the planet is not sustainable. The future of the planet needs us all to significantly reduce our environmental footprint.
  • Failing to look after yourself and prioritising work or others without also getting your own personal needs met could result in serious illness or premature death.

Can you see how ‘giving back’ could be too late?

It’s as though ‘giving back’ has become an acceptable excuse to disconnect from the natural human qualities of love, kindness, and compassion–until a better time. Made even more distasteful when those of privilege choose to turn a blind eye until they’ve sorted themselves out first. Or when donations are made with an air of ‘I’m better than’ or are to redeem feelings of guilt.

Giving is a kind thing to do and makes things better. But waiting to give means you’re not having the impact you could. You don’t need to wait until a critical situation captures your heart. There is a more compassionate way to live, work and run a business–everyday.

Stop giving back. #JustGiveNow 

The solution: #JustGiveNow

Giving encompasses a whole range of activities, not just time or money. You can also give love, kindness, attention, conscious thought, forgiveness and much more.

We are all connected through the choices we make every day. Every decision you make has an impact–on you, others and the planet.

Imagine a giving spectrum. At one end you have people who give, give, give–often at the expense of themselves. At the other end of the spectrum, you have ’takers’ who only think of themselves and take at the expense of others or the planet. The ideal is a healthy balance of giving to yourself and giving to others.

Even making small ‘giving’ changes such as switching from buying packaged to loose vegetables or getting up fifteen minutes earlier to enjoy breakfast with loved ones, or a precious moment for yourself could make a difference.

From a business perspective, over 57% of people expect businesses to help solve social and environmental problems. If you’re waiting to ‘give back’ through your business this is likely to be costing you business.

Don’t have the time? Short of cash?

I hear you but these are old ways of thinking confused by the literal meaning of giving back and thinking you to have or have received something before you ‘give back’.

When I started raising funds for my humanitarian trips to Rwanda, I didn’t have time to raise funds personally as I was already struggling to juggle running a busy training consultancy business with my personal commitments. That’s why I started fundraising through my business. It was the only way I could see me raising the funds we needed.

It was a complete surprise to find my business grew on the back my charitable activities. This experience taught me there are plenty of easy ways to ‘give now’ through your business whatever your circumstances including:

  • Make conscious choices about what you buy–e.g. sourcing ethical or environmental products/services (as you may do already personally), reduce your consumption or donate unwanted items to a charity, social enterprise or upcycling project.
  • Volunteer your time–locally or overseas depending on your values and personal needs.
  • Lend or give resources to others e.g. computers, old stock, or making space available for charitable events.
  • Make financial donations to a charity aligned to what’s important to you. Even a nominal amount can make a difference and feels good.
  • Cause marketing – incorporate fundraising into marketing or sales campaigns. This is a really powerful way to raise funds for causes and grow your business at the same time. This is the first strategy I used and teach others to do too. See my more detailed blog Cause Marketing Best Practices –  
  • Staff engagement activities – introduce volunteering, charitable challenges or impact activities into team building, staff engagement, and leadership programs.
  • Align your business to the UN Global Goals – help tackle the world’s most critical problems by aligning your business to these the ‘world’s to-do list.’

Imagine how good it would feel to be having more impact now?

In Summary: Stop Giving Back. #JustGiveNow

Waiting to ‘give back’ is hindering charitable giving and destroying the planet. People, animals, communities and the planet need you to stop ‘giving back’ and #JustGiveNow!

Doing good and supporting causes can be a powerful way to GROW your business. No matter what stage of business you are at. Failure to give now will sabotage the success of your business.

Remember to make sure you’re giving to yourself too. Life is a lot more fulfilling and sustainable when you have a healthy balance of giving to yourself and to others.

Please do share if you (and tag me) if you agree!

P.S. Want to know more. Check out my Give-to-Profit Book or contact me.

Have you seen my TEDx Talk Isn’t Business an Opportunity to be Kind HERE. 

Often described as one of the most authentic and inspiring souls you can meet, Alisoun is on a mission to improve the lives of a million people – by making it easy for businesses to be a profitable force for good, and through her support of causes that tackle poverty, education and social justice.

Alisoun’s keynote talks, training, mentoring, and best-selling books Give-to-Profit: How to Grow Your Business by Supporting Charities and Social Causes and Heartatude: The 9 Principles of Heart-Centered Success have favorably changed the good fortune of thousands of people worldwide. She loves doing humanitarian work, fundraising and living by the beach in Scotland.

Alisoun is also the founder of the Give-to-Profit Community and has written the following free resources:

  • Ebook: 101 Ways To Attract Great Clients, With Heart, Integrity & Social Impact (click here)
  • Ebook: 52 Ways to Raise Funds for Charities and Social Causes Through Your Business (click here)

You can connect with Alisoun here:

  • Alisoun’s website – 
  • Alisoun Mackenzie Facebook Fanpage – click HERE
  • Linkedin – click HERE
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  • Twitter – @AlisounMac
  • Youtube – click HERE.
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Comments (2)

  • Alisoun, what a thought provoking article which makes an excellent point. The words we use definitely impact mindset and actions. Will definitely banish the phrase giving back from my vocabulary!!!

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