It’s easy to think of entrepreneurs as hard-nosed, money-driven machines, working all hours and sacrificing family life and holidays to make a profit, get that latest round of investment, or open another office.

While it’s true that self-made business people do have a lot of drive, they also have a lot of other great characteristics. Often, people who come from nothing are the ones who feel more for the deprived, or for the struggling. This is why many successful businessmen and women have their favourite charity causes that they represent. Charities are always immensely grateful for the help they receive, but giving back to the community is also good for the entrepreneur:

It feels good and meaningful

Primarily, charity should be a selfless act, with no expectation of reward, but this is actually rather naïve and even a bit pious. People don’t give selflessly or selfishly, it’s in between. Giving to charity or working for one helps people to stay grounded, to feel that they are contributing to something bigger than themselves. It gives meaning to all the hard work and the long hours. It’s what humanity is all about and this is easy to forget in the hurly-burly of the business world.

There is always someone out there who needs help

It’s an unfair world and not everyone gets the breaks they need to make it in life. Other people are struck with illness, or war, or any of a hundred unfortunate blows. With all this need, all the chuggers in city centres and the mailshots asking for direct debits can become too much and we become desensitised – and guilty.

This is why most high-profile business people have so-called “pet” causes, although this trivialises the great work they can do. By choosing a particular cause, or issue, or disease, the entrepreneur can focus on one charity and know that he or she is making a difference to lives. Another option is to set up a trust, like Manchester’s Reuben Singh Trust, which donates funds to charities that its overseeing body, the Reuben Singh Family Office, assesses and approves.

Giving something back fosters a community spirit

It might sound exhausting, running a business, a home and then a charity, but it doesn’t have to be. The same charisma that sells and raises investment can be used to engage people in the project. Employees, family members, friends, local dignitaries can all be encouraged to pile in and do their bit. The entrepreneur just provides the initial impetus and then everyone else brings the momentum – and the community spirit – along with them.

You don’t have to be a multi-millionaire

You don’t need a huge fortune to start up a charity or a trust, just some drive, ambition and a caring heart. Think about causes close to you – maybe a friend or family member is suffering from a little-known illness, or you see a lack of special education provision in your town. Start there, start with the things and the people you have and let your sense of humanity and community do the rest.