Why businesses need to embrace Ramadan’s spirit of giving all year round

Companies can gain greater respect from their customers and their employees by engaging in philanthropic activities

A cannon is fired to end the fast at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Victor Besa / The National 
A cannon is fired to end the fast at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Victor Besa / The National 

Every year, a week before Ramadan, my friend starts working on her “giving back schedule”. Penned in her dedicated notebook are all the good deeds she will be doing throughout the holy month, from donating money to charities to calling up her deceased mothers’ friends to wish them well.

As Muslims believe that the rewards for good deeds are multiplied during Ramadan, millions of people and businesses around the world are engaging in multiple good deeds and giving back to their communities just like my friend.

But Ramadan’s spirit of giving back should be embraced by businesses all year round and not just for a month. Not only does this benefit the communities they operate in, it makes business sense.

Though some may argue that giving back is a one-way street with no financial gain for owners, businesses benefit in multiple ways.

Philanthropy is the best form of PR

When your business engages in giving back to the community, word of mouth will spread. Ultimately, your customers – and your employees – will respect you and the way you are supporting the community. It will also encourage potential customers to buy from you.

A survey by Morning Consult for Fortune found that millennials were more likely to want to work for a company, as well as buy its products, if it donated to charities compared to one that didn’t.

Giving back helps introduce to you to new business opportunities

A few years ago, I worked with a client who wanted to engage in more philanthropic projects. We helped him to choose a cause to support. A few months later, he was invited to a gala dinner to which other benefactors were also invited. From this, he partnered with a business owner who attended the event, and that helped to develop his business further and generate new forms of income.

In business, people often partner with like-minded individuals who support and believe in similar causes. By giving back, you may be rewarded in unexpected ways or be introduced to other valuable opportunities.

How do you give back in the right way?

The easiest way to give back is to donate a certain amount to charity, but the most effective way is to incorporate it into your business model and to work with a cause that is aligned to your vision.

Eyeglasses brand Warby Park gives back by integrating a charitable culture into its business operations. The company's “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” model means that for every pair of glasses a customer purchases, another pair is donated to charity.

Apparel brand Bombas follows a similar approach. The business makes T-shirts and socks and also offers a scheme where for every pair of socks purchased, it will donate a specially-designed pair of socks to a homeless shelter. Bombas has donated more than 47 million items to date in the United States.

As well as goods, companies can also dedicate their time and/or services. If you run a law firm, you can dedicate a certain number of hours per year to help those who can’t afford legal fees. If you are a psychologist, or a life coach, you can also dedicate your time to the community. An acquaintance of mine, who is a talented commercial photographer, teaches budding entrepreneurs how take good photos of their products for their social media channels, thus helping to elevate their businesses and make their products appealing to more clients.

Remember that your customers want to see the impact that they helped to make with your help. You can do that by sharing the figures on your website, the way Bombas has with its live feed, or you can update them through newsletters and social media channels. Sharing figures is powerful, transparent and is a direct way to show the impact you are making on the community.

Finding a cause that aligns with your business values, one that your customers and team would appreciate, and integrating it within your business operations is a process of giving back where everyone wins.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur, who manages her marketing and communications company in Abu Dhabi.

Published: April 18, 2021 07:30 AM

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