Those of you savvy in the art of business development should understand that above all else, relationships are at the core of success. This statement will be the cornerstone of everything that follows in this blog post as it is the cornerstone of how I operate as a business professional.

Having said that, this is going to be a tricky post to write. You see, I’m trying to draw a correlation that indicates why philanthropy matters for business development.

What makes this tricky is that I need to be clear in my intention: you shouldn’t just get involved in philanthropic efforts for the purposes of business development. Excuse me, as I step up to my soapbox.

You should be philanthropic because it’s the right thing to do. The wonderful side effect is that it can benefit you as a business development professional if you are a good person who’s good at your job.

Philanthropy Matters (For More Reason Than One)

Now, those of you financially minded folks might be thinking “Well, yeah, but there’s also some great tax benefits from charitable giving as well!”

There’s certainly truth in that, and there are a ton of resources online to help but through my charitable efforts, I have also met some fantastic, like-minded, business professionals with whom I have developed mutually beneficial referral relationships.

Whattaya know, doing good can be good for your business! Beyond that, my pursuit of helping a worthy cause has been monumentally good for my overall humanity.

There are three charities of which I’m a regular supporter and volunteer, but for the purpose of this piece, I want to discuss one in particular. A young man named Brett D’Alessandro returned from his six-year term in the United States Marine Corps to find a significant lack of care being provided to many veterans who have been affected by their service.

He founded Backpacks for Life, and since then he has been working tirelessly to help homeless veterans by providing them with backpacks full of basic necessities and information on how to get help.

Brett is a real-life hero, and when I found out about this charity, I got involved and in some small way, I have contributed to the 4,000 some-odd backpacks that have been distributed to other heroes of this country since the charity was founded.

We’re coming up on this year’s golf outing for Backpacks For Life and it’s always such a wonderful experience. The day is full of great stories from great people and, to tie back to our theme, some fantastic opportunities for business development.

I have forged friendships, both professional and personal as a result of my charity efforts and I’m very grateful for that. So, this is the point where I step down from my soapbox and make a plea for support.

Contribute For Growth

Yes, a donation to a cause like Backpacks For Life is a tax deduction, but it’s also a way for a successful business development person to remember why they put in the hours and why we spend time away from our families.

I believe success is measured not by money, but what we do with it and that’s why philanthropy matters. I have surrounded myself with people, at both a personal and professional level, who believe that.

In fact, I have the distinct pleasure to work for one of the most selfless men I’ve ever met. No joke, if you know the dude you know his generosity knows no bounds and he’s not seeking glory for it, he’s in it for the right reasons.

He created the agency because he believed there was a better way to deliver the services he was providing to his clients as part of a larger organization. Also, he’s not a huge fan of working for anybody else, but I would guess that’s a consistent trait among entrepreneurs.

From the very start, he has used the business as a platform from which he can participate in some wonderful causes because it’s the right thing to do. It’s a pretty awesome thing.

He introduced me to Backpacks For Life and in turn, Backpacks For Life introduced me to some people that I do business with. Once again, this is why philanthropy matters to business development professionals.

Philanthropy for Success

There you have it – it’s entirely possible to do the right thing and enjoy the associated business benefits. I know I said I would only talk about one of the charities but I can’t help myself.

If like me, you understand why philanthropy matters, and you’re interested in pursuing business development relationships (with me, or otherwise) check out Eva’s Village, particularly the Behind the Seams fashion show event that we host every year at Bottagra in Hawthorne. You can also consider getting a foursome for the American Cancer Society Northern NJ golf classic in September at The Hackensack Golf Club.

So I ask, why did you get into business? I’m sure that’s a very existential question and at the risk of sounding altruistic, I would hope there’s a part of you that did it so you could give back. If not, well…this post isn’t for you. OR, maybe you just haven’t found the right cause yet.

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