Today (September 5th) has been declared the International Day of Charity by the United Nations General Assembly. According to their website, the UN calls for a “spirit of global solidarity focused on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable… and acknowledges the role of the diverse public sector.” In short, we all must do our part!
So in honor of this observance, we sat down with the president and founder of Scott Circle Communications, Laura Gross to discuss what charitable giving means to her and why she has made it a core philosophy of the firm.
What charitable cause means the most to you?
Through my own experiences running a woman-owned business, a mother of daughters and someone who has always been surrounded by a wonderful network of strong female leaders and friends, I am inspired to help others, and especially to support women. I believe a rising tide lifts all boats - if we all help each other out, we will be able to grow professionally and personally too.
How do you incorporate this philosophy into your own business?
I originally came to Washington, D.C. to work in politics and government, so helping people has always been a passion of mine. The more I have learned about entrepreneurship, the more I’ve found that following your passions can only help grow your business.
At Scott Circle Communications, our whole business is focused on mission-driven clients. We use our experience in public relations and communications to elevate those doing good work, and the people and causes that need help gaining more public attention. As a company, we have really focused on doing “PR with purpose” and working on issues that truly matter to us.
This is a mentality shared by our entire staff. Because they are motivated by helping people and feeling like their work has meaningful impact, they are motivated in helping our clients succeed.
As a company, we also make sure to give back when we can, whether it’s regularly scheduling volunteer work with a local nonprofit that empowers homeless and low-income women to holding donation drives. We even started sending our clients a unique thank you holiday gift that allows them to make a charitable donation of their own choice. We discovered that our network shares our desire to give back!
And on a personal level, I make it a point to make time for informational interviews whether it’s with people who want to learn more about public relations or new women entrepreneurs about running a small business. And if I can connect them with someone in my network, or share lessons learned from both my successes or my mistakes, I want to pay that forward.
What are ways other business owners can give back?
I actually think this is a great perk of being a business owner - I can simply decide - with input from our employees, of course - who we can help. Sharing your own expertise is an easy way to give back. For example, if you are an expert in advertising, you can help a nonprofit learn more about raising money through digital ads; a leadership coach can volunteer time to help those running non-profits; and an owner of a construction firm can help a non-profit who may be in need of building repairs.
Or if time is really a scarce resource, you can donate some money to a charity or sponsor an event. Of course, everyone is busy and these things take some level of commitment and energy, but if you can make it a part of your work and engage your team somehow, it can make a big difference to those you help. And it also becomes a team building activity for your staff.
Should companies prioritize social responsibility?
We’ve seen a recent shift of consumers demanding that brands care about more than profits and demonstrate social responsibility. For example, according to a recent Accenture study, nearly two thirds of consumers want companies to take a stand on the social culture, environmental and political issues close to their heart. And, purchasing decisions are influenced by words, values and actions of the company’s leadership. Even top CEOs from the Business Roundtable are arguing that shareholder value is no longer the top priority.
Do you think purpose matters more than profits?
Obviously, a for profit business needs to make money to sustain itself. It’s important that overhead costs are met, and business owners are encouraged to grow year after year.
However, I do believe that doing good is good business. It’s our job, as small business owners, to also be good stewards of our community. If you aren’t doing your part to help uplift others, you’re not doing what needs to be done to give back.
Purpose does matter. No one wants to see executives making millions, and companies making huge profits and not giving back. It’s their duty and responsibility to be good citizens. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it’s good for the bottom line.