Giving is Investing: Why our startup gives back & why you should incorporate giving into your business model.

"Businesses are successful when they are successful at serving." It was drilled into me by a college professor and has stuck with me ever since. He claimed that fundamentally that the success of a business was directly congruent to its ability to be able to create value and wow for people. 

While all businesses are focused on serving their customers (at least I hope so), should businesses be focused on also serving beyond their customers? I believe they should, and that they provide additional value to their customers by being a conduit for good. This thinking led my co-founders and I at FÜM to integrate giving into our business model from the beginning. When we launched as a bootstrapping, in the garage, cash-lean startup, the idea of giving a portion of our sales away sounded a bit crazy... And it was. But our underpaid team decided it was something that we wanted to do, even if it didn't make complete sense. We decided that we wanted to share the joy of giving with our customers. 

In the 2.5 years since our launch, we have donated over $50,000 to provide food, shelter, and education for children in an orphanage in Kenya. This is approximately 3% of our gross revenue of $1.6M as a company to date. This has not been an easy commitment. For a startup, every dollar counts and the ability to reinvest profit into growth is crucial in growth.  If I am honest, I have had doubts as to whether this is the best approach. Wouldn't we be better off to first build a successful, profitable company and then to integrate giving into our business?

If spreadsheets and logic are your sole factors in decision making, then this would be the right path. But what if that approach is incomplete? What if we look at giving as an investment rather than an expense?

Why we choose to invest through giving:

1. Giving creates relationships.

The best brands have more than a transactional relationship with their customers. Through giving you can establish a relationship built on shared values.

2. Giving empowers.

Consumers desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Brands can open opportunities for consumers to be a part of meaningful systemic change.

3. Giving opens conversations.

Sadly, it is not the norm for businesses to have giving as a part of their consumer facing brand. By being a brand that gives back, your brand is separated from the crowd, and becomes something worth talking about. 

When it comes down to it, we give because we know that the success of a business is in its ability to serve PEOPLE. People are not just an order number, a session, or a completed sale. People are full of passion, love, and values. People examine the brands they engage with and carefully vet those they want to identify with. People want to see a better future, and they will identify with the brands who are a part of bringing this future about.

If you lead a business, I would challenge you to view giving as an investment in a better future for your customers, team, and community. Rather than pushing it to the side, integrate it from the start. A giving commitment will be the standard of businesses in the future, be a leader in this area, not a follower.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Braeden is the CEO and co-founder of Füm. With a background in psychology and business, he passionately leads Füm as a company that serves and empowers others as its top priority. 

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