Creating a Corporate Culture of Caring

Firoz Patel Corporate GivingIt’s no secret that new and old companies alike are starting to invest in opportunities that allow the companies and their employees to give back or help charitable causes. The numbers don’t lie, giving back is important to professionals – particularly to younger members of the workforce, and a common value among many.

In constructing a company’s culture, knowledge of the employees is a key point in designing and implementing a company culture that allows its employees to flourish. Knowing that philanthropy and giving back is important to the employees is a leg up for a company’s culture architects, but in truth this information is only half  of the battle.

Companies large and small can struggle with integrating this information into tangible manifestations within the organization. However there are some steps to keep in mind when creating a culture of caring (and giving) within the context of a company.

Start Early

While this does not apply if we are talking about an established business, if your company is in the process of development, make sure to incorporate this into the central tenets of your company’s mission statement. Whether this means devoting a certain amount of the company’s equity to a charitable cause, or establishing clearly defined programming and opportunities around a philanthropic purpose, incorporate this into the company’s mission ASAP. This means that employees will understand philanthropy as a core value of the company whether it’s the first hire or the hundredth.

Don’t Just Talk the Talk

While it’s a great idea to incorporate this sort of language and focus into the company’s mission statement and core values, it’s more important to show this sort of attitude. It’s great to have this written down somewhere, but the only thing that will give these words meaning is the corresponding action.

Care to Scale:

Be realistic about what resources your company is able to allocate to a charitable cause. Don’t overpromise, only to find yourself and your employees unable to deliver on this promise. Whether this is a dollar amount, or the manpower delivered by your team, make sure that your team is able to follow through. This means that you need to take stock from the beginning. Set charitable goals that are reasonable within the framework of your company. Furthermore, if possible, make sure that you are choosing a cause that works with the mission, focus or skills of your company and its talented employees. It’s always a great idea to share what your company is great at, with those who can truly benefit from that expertise.

While there are more ways to integrate giving into the core of a company, the most important thing is to take a step back and evaluate where your company is, where you want it to go and how integrating charity as a core value can be an asset to both the recipients of the charity and to the company itself.


How to Give : Sean Parker’s Tips for Hackers

firoz patel“It’s important for hackers to embrace the values that made them successful in the first place: skepticism of the establishment and a desire to provoke or upend it. The hackers who are entering the global elite should embrace charitable giving as its own reward, not as a means of acceptance into the very social systems they have played a role in demolishing.”

Sean Parker is known as many things. To some he is the unyielding kid behind the notorious Napster, to others, he is the controversial founding president of Facebook as famously portrayed by Justin Timberlake in the Social Network. Additionally,Sean Parker serves as a board member of Spotify and is the chairman of the newly formed philanthropic endeavor, the Parker Foundation.

In a recent article featured in the Wall Street Journal, Sean Parker outlined the challenges of wielding so much power and financial clout for emerging tech barons. Sean describes this “new global elite” as a class comprised of true innovators and pioneers in telecommunications, Internet services, personal computing and other tech-based niches.  He reflects on the fact that over the past few decades, the grand shift in demand for technology services has in turn restructured the division of wealth among, well, the wealthiest.

Parker mentions that this class of people has been described as “ technologists, engineers and even geeks, but they all have one thing in common: They are hackers”.

He then goes on to describe the common characteristics of this hacker class. Parker claims Hackers share a skepticism of the establishment, a demand for transparency, an inborn ability to find weak spots in systems and a passion for exploiting the weaknesses of a system through the creation of elegant solutions. Most importantly, hackers maintain a steadfast belief in data as an integral part of problem solving.

After Mr. Parker seemingly concludes his description of the “typical hacker” as an outsider, he goes on to describe the driving force of idealism as a propellent back into the more traditional realm of philanthropy.

Parker admits, that while this desire to do good ushers these new radicals into a well-established milieu, the hacker elite is more interested in evaluating their own impact as opposed to partaking in the pageantry that can accompany such generous giving. In this article, Sean Parker provides a call to action for those looking to contribute large sums of money to generous causes.

Parker suggests that those looking to create a foundation or contribute to an endowment:

Give Early

Parker alludes to an extremely important difference in how you look at managing the capital behind a business vs the mindset behind managing the money in a foundation. Business mogul Warren Buffett recently shared this same sentiment at the Forbes philanthropy summit.  Parker suggests that the money spent through a foundation or a charitable cause should be spent now. You’re not trying to build an extensive reservoir of money to be held onto in perpetuity. Instead  you want the assets to go to issues we face today with the hope that this will positively impact both the present and the future.

Stay Small

Another important tips that Parker offers, particularly to those looking to start a foundation is the importance of staying small. Although well-established foundations  and government-run agencies may have some advantages in the form of larger endowments or certain tax breaks respectively, smaller foundations bear one huge advantage. And that is agility. By keeping  a foundation small, this organization remains unencumbered by decades of red tape.  A small and new foundation has the mobility to contribute and react in real time, whereas older or government bound organizations may not.

Although Mr. Parker was directly addressing the specifics of small, but growing class of tech-elites, the overarching sentiment can still be applied to people in other fields trying to figure out how to approach the broad concept of “giving back”.