Why every start-up should harness a culture of giving

Virgin Atlantic’s Business is an Adventure event series touches down in Washington next week, with the aim of discovering how the desire to create change drives businesses to succeed. Ahead of their appearance at the event GoodWorld founder and CEO, Dale Nirvani Pfeifer, tells us why we should all do more good... 

Did you know that there is a single exercise that has been known to boost immunity, improve mental health, increase physical strength, and release hormones that enhance happiness and reduce stress?

It’s giving. University of Notre Dame researchers demonstrated that generosity has been shown to do all these things and more; the New York Times found that it could reduce blood pressure. Simple acts of kindness benefit not only others, but also the giver. But giving isn’t just beneficial to your health - it can also play a key role in your success.

It strengthens relationships

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading Adam Grant’s Give and Take. In it, he takes the traditional drivers of success and turns them on their head, instead focusing on the idea that giving is the secret to getting ahead. In comparing "givers" vs. "takers", he notes that the former ultimately rise to the top because of their selfless approach to networking, collaborating, and more. In giving someone something - whether it’s time, resources, energy - you create a dynamic where the recipient appreciates and feels compelled to return the favor, often going above and beyond the original gift.

I’ve seen this time and time again amongst all of the industry leaders, entrepreneurs and experts that I most respect.

They say that D.C. is a city that’s all about connections - who you know, how you know them, what they can do for you. But the people and businesses I’ve observed really succeed go above and beyond to proactively help others and cultivate a culture of giving. In the workplace, at home, on the street - these people all demonstrate the positive effects of reciprocity.

It helps us to connect

We have extraordinary amounts of information at our fingertips, and we’re integrating an increasing number of our daily activities into our digital personas. Take the advent of social media, which lets us talk to people across the globe and instantly learn about what is happening in other corners of the world. We have an unprecedented opportunities to collaborate and build meaningful relationships around the causes we care about.

Read: Why the desire to create change drives businesses to succeed

With this in mind, giving serves as an exercise to start with what we have in common and build to better understanding other points of view. Consider people uniting to support "The Scientist" after Humans of New York’s posts about him went viral and helped put faces to the Syrian refugee crisis. Or how a Buzzfeed reporter’s stolen iPhone and the Internet’s quest to help him find it resulted in a one-of-a-kind cultural exchange between China and the U.S. Giving-oriented activities build a global community of people who may never otherwise have connected and now have a shared experience and forum to learn about one another. Pretty amazing!

For entrepreneurs, it’s no longer optional

55 per cent of global online consumers are willing to pay more for products and services coming from companies committed to positive impact (interestingly, the propensity was strongest in Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East/Africa). Millennials have demonstrated an increasing desire to associate with purpose-driven organizations. Cause marketing and purpose-driven missions are no longer optional; success today extends beyond sales of products and services and into what a company is doing to create change.

I founded my company, GoodWorld, to use technology to allow people to make financial transactions directly on social media. While our business is social payments, we started with charitable donations because we wanted to build our company on a foundation of generosity and incorporate it into everything we do. Whether it’s more sustainable production processes or initiatives to give back to the local community, integrating purpose into business is crucial to success.

It’s a win-win scenario

The best part about giving back is that there are no losers, only winners. No matter how you choose to incorporate generosity into your life, you’re actively helping both others and yourself. However, this doesn’t mean completely taking yourself and your priorities/well-being out of the picture - you can do both at once. Just be sure to give in a genuine, sincere way to something you actually care about. As Grant says, "If you only do it to succeed, it probably won’t work."

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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