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Success in life is not all about money; the most precious things generally include strong family relationships, opportunities to develop skills, self-fulfillment and supporting your community. Having said that, successful businesses are a key part of providing the wealth that can promote these other important matters. Your business can give things to the community in ways that benefit both sides, while your role in the community can influence how people regard your company and generate loyalty that is built on a positive reputation.

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The opportunities we have enjoyed are a privilege, and by channeling part of our money and efforts into supporting vulnerable members of the community, we can be a part of the solution in tackling the problems and helping people to enjoy a better future.

Your money and your influence in the community are both important. Use your contacts, communicate well with your staff and your customers and get everyone on board with your vision to make a difference.

Think your strategy through carefully from the beginning and reassess from time to time, so that you achieve maximum benefit for your charity efforts and enjoy the positive impacts on your business.

Be strategic and very specific in which causes you would like to help. Will you be focused on your local community or a national cause? If your company has a very local customer base, you may be most effective at helping local causes, whereas a national or global company could have an impact on a major issue that is close to its business aims.

Think broadly about the variety of ways in which your business can make a difference. Direct financial donations are a very important part of philanthropic work, but you can also give your time, target particular events or times in the year for fundraising, or donate something you sell. Get advice from your tax adviser on how best to benefit good causes and your business.

Many very successful business leaders around the world are also deeply committed to helping others. Philanthropist Cecilia Ibru lives out what she believes by using her wealth and influence to combat issues related to poverty and health in Nigeria and throughout Africa. The Michael and Cecilia Foundation funds a wide range of educational initiatives for children that will inspire them to learn and develop into well-rounded, successful adults. Her simple but well-considered strategies include promoting literacy to encourage communication skills, school learning that is connected to the real world and sparks curiosity, and developing responsible, healthy living at a young age to encourage future leadership skills.

All types of business can make a real difference to their communities by giving back in a wide variety of ways. Whether you want to fundraise for an organization, offer scholarships, provide opportunities for training or use your business contacts to leverage your giving, make a start now and build philanthropy into the future of your business, for the benefit of all.

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