Saturday, 5 December 2015

4 Ways To Make The Most Of Mark Zuckerberg's 45 Billion Dollar Gift

Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg earned his wealth by creating value through innovation. He is a example of capitalism at its best. Millions of entrepreneurs and business leaders can only wish they could achieve a fraction of his success. He has just pledged to donate 99% of his Facebook shares during his lifetime.  However, most of the online commentary has been negative!  There are suggestions that maybe it is not completely selfless; that he is not going about it in the right way.  Hey, he’s only 31 years old, just getting started in the business of giving back, and he’s got decades to hone his approach.

Commentators are missing the most important point.

Successful people—and in particular, successful business leaders—have a moral obligation to help improve our society.  The 45 billion dollar pledge made by Mark Zuckerberg with his wife, Priscilla Chan, should remind all leaders to step up and do their part.  (Even those of us with less than 45 billion dollars.)  Thank you for that reminder, Mark.

Now stop thinking about Zuckerberg and his billions.  If you’re a leader reading this post, focus your mind on how to encourage other leaders in your company to get involved and make a difference. Millions of leaders giving even small amounts of time and money annually will outshine anything Mark Zuckerberg does.  Think about these powerful four ways you can make a difference.

1.    Make some of your personal donations known.  Being modest is admirable, but hiding your good deeds certainly doesn’t set an example.  I’m all for companies matching charitable donations, but companies can be faceless and dispassionate.  Nothing motivates more than when a respected person in your circle knows how you’re helping the world and congratulates and supports you.  So be that person for those around you.

2.    Help a non-profit by becoming involved in its leadership.  If you have some money, it is surely easier to send a check.  However, if you’re even a halfway talented leader, donating that service to non-profits is powerful.  Lead a committee.  Run one event.  Coach a staffer or two so they make better decisions.  I could go on.  And drag along a peer from the office who needs to learn about giving back.

3.    Create a corporate culture that supports and encourages charitable activities-with leadership broadly setting an example.  Don’t get me wrong—businesses are about turning a profit and building value.  Some employees want to be paid by their employer for every minute of charitable work they do, and in my book, they are completely missing a key point about being charitable (giving without being compensated).  But my focus as a columnist is on midsized business leadership, and I believe leadership must walk their talk.  Thus, to create a culture that encourages charitable activities, companies should recognize those on the leadership team who do charitable work.  Recognition is cheap and easy, requiring only a little process to keep it up, often managed as an HR function.

4.    As a leader, take a personal interest in those on your team who are involved in their community.  Don’t judge how they do it or tell them they’re doing it wrong.  Just recognize them and better yet, support their efforts through giving donations to the causes they support (simply because they support them).  Even $100 here and $200 there adds up and makes a difference.  It doesn’t take much to “hook” people on becoming lifelong givers—of their time and money.

So please, right now stop, and review the four options above, and pick one.  Pick a person or two to support, and put a conversation on your calendar.  Leverage your leadership and your contribution strategy to increase the number of people involved in charitable activities.  Commit to some simple way to step up and do a bit more for the world around us.  Make the most out of the Zuckerbergs’ gift.

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