Learn more about Mickey's work through this video.
1. As a business consultant and financial educator, how do you help people achieve prosperity in difficult economic times?
Building prosperity for the average person's budget is the same in good times and rough times.
You have to create an action that leads to positive growth. Turn your attention to actions that create positive change, which is first looking at your current fiscal relationships to see if they are the best ones.
I find that 8/10 people are doing business with banks they hate, use credit cards that have awful rates, have investments that are inappropriate, or have no idea what they actually ARE insured for. These relationships run large portions of our lives, but most people just "accept" the relationships as being fine.
Everyone could use a prosperity tune-up.
2. What are some important connections between prosperity and philanthropy?
This is where the magic really is. If done well, they feed each other, especially in business.
Philanthropy is a private act that does a public good, and prosperity is an action that leads sustainable growth.
You can't just give blindly and expect sustainability: it needs to match emotionally, physically, and financially. When our actions of gifting to the world also gift back to us, it creates a thriving circle of life. The more you give in actions that also support you as an individual, the more you are able to give. It just takes a bit of thought...
An example as a business owner is that the ways you give back to the community can also build social capital, create sales, and change the lives of others in a meaningful way.
Philanthropy should be a natural expressions of self.
3. If business owners are feeling the financial pinch, what can they do to continue to participate in giving back to their communities?
Business has the most to offer the world and the least amount of great advice on HOW to give back in a meaningful way. So many owners are left with a sort of paralysis on the philanthropy subject.
Business can find so many ways to be a valued partner in the community. Here are 7 ideas most business owners may have missed:
1) Create internships which offer training with pay, create smaller jobs that are after school hours and provide jobs for teens, or add in extra staff for an event.
2) Consider matching gifts the employees make to other organizations in a specific dollar amount.
3) Give staff paid time off to volunteer in the community.
4) Take a consistent paid advertisement in publications from organizations that need the support to do other great work in the community: a high school concert playbill, small press paper, or community program newsletter.
5) See what can be gifted "in kind": this may be giving away extra stock, recycling items that are not in use, gifting the services the company provides, or offering use of space. Then define the organizations that would benefit from those gifts.
6) Put together an annual drive and invite the community in. Many businesses offer an in-store benefit for participation: coat drive, book drive, pantry drive...
7) BOGO: BUY one, GIVE one. This is great fit for a retailer and also offers a chance for client sales to drive gifting. Pick items that are needed in the community and have a simple "BUY one and the business will GIFT one" exactly like it to the community.
4. What are some strategies individuals can use to be more philanthropic even when they are short on resources?
OK, I am going to jump on top of my chair and start yelling into my bullhorn! The number one thing philanthropy needs is ORGANIZATION. If you can organize, you can totally save the world.
The virtual world has made it a BILLION times easier to share information and gather resources from others. Forwarding an email, inviting people on your mailing list to participate on a project, or physically gathering items are all ways that help projects move forward.
We had a homeless shelter that was empty of resources, so I asked eight people to host a truck in front of their house for a single Saturday. We sent a flyer around the neighborhood that asked neighbors to bring good stuff they did not use to the truck for families in need. We raised 18,000 pounds: that is nine TONS.
Philanthropy needs organization. Groups are always looking for someone to help in organizing a fundraiser, and the budgets for non-profits shrink every second of the day. Want to get started immediately? Pick something that is meaningful to you personally, and look for ways to add your special sauce. Be specific when you offer your skills to the organization because the organization may not know how to utilize your network. (I have 10 hours available to help do graphic design work; I would like to host an event; I have 300 handbags to donate for a fundraiser.)
5. How do you personally incorporate philanthropic giving in your own life as a financial professional and community member?
I make a plan with my heart and THEN with my expertise. Finding what feeds a person emotionally, intellectually, and physically is part of the job description of being a great philanthropist. Each of us needs to do the internal work needed to identify what we have to offer the world; if you start the equation the other way--"what does the world need"--the internal drivers may get lost.
First I look at the gifts I love to share with the world and identify if those gifts will also offer benefit to a specific organization. I am an excellent consultant and a speaker, so I set aside 100 hours a year to donate my services at no fee. I will teach, consult small start-up non-profits, or lead business groups and share my knowledge.
I gave philanthropy a budget in my business model that is attached to a percentage of sales, and 2% of all sales automatically flow into the philanthropy budget.
I also share resources in meaningful ways; I am part of the World Community Grid, so I share the office computers' spare memory on a secure grid that does lengthy calculations that match organ transplant donors. I offer my office to non-profits that need a meeting area, and I help others make connections in the community.