“Making money is a happiness; making other people happy is a superhappiness.” — Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus.

This is a quote I return to time and time again, particularly around the holiday season. One I hope other entrepreneurs will take to heart as we enter the new year.

Research has shown that giving is a pathway to lasting happiness and personal fulfillment. On the business front, statistics show that giving at the corporate level leads to growth and success. All in all, helping others may be the secret to living a healthier, wealthier life and running a more productive business.

When it comes to the benefits of charitable giving, the facts speak for themselves:

  • Consumers are loyal to a company that helps them contribute to social and environmental issues
  • Consumers say they will pay more for products and services from companies that are socially and environmentally responsible
  • Workers consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work
  • Employees say their job is more fulfilling when they are provided opportunities to make a positive impact on social and environmental issue
  • Charitable outreach creates another front for positive social media outreach

For all the entrepreneurs dipping their toes in the waters of charitable giving, I encourage you to think locally, and to be aware of both your tangible and intangible assets. Collecting money for a cause and donating cans of food are admirable, but you should also consider sharing your expertise and your time. Accountant? Provide a day of free tax advice around tax time to those who need help. Dentist? Offer free children’s dental checkups (do it around Halloween for a good PR tie-in). Lawyer? Visit a senior home and help people straighten up their wills and other legal documents. Financial advisor? Connect with your community center and talk to low-income families who need guidance.

I run a publishing company. Our services don’t fit so neatly into that formula, so we donate our time. Employees of Advantage|ForbesBooks logged hundreds of hours in 2018 working with charitable organizations across our home base of Charleston, from weeding and planting over 6,000 bulbs to beautify Colonial Lake, to helping Charleston Animal Society move into their new warehouse, to working with Operation Home to help build a wheelchair ramp for a disabled woman. We blog about it, take pictures, and post them on our social media. It’s a win-win-win (for the non-profit, employees and business).

As we begin 2019, my advice is to make giving – in whatever form is best for you, your employees and your business – a part of your annual marketing plan. Not something to just do during the slow season, but something to do year-round, as important to the health of your company as any other marketing effort. You, your business, your team and your community will be better for it.