Giving back is a core value for me, my family, and RaderCo. One of the things I look for when engaging with a company is if they support a non-profit or mission unless they are the mission, such as my clients' Blood Centers of America and the Oklahoma Blood Institute.
In 2015, a couple of years after I started RaderCo, I hired my first off-shore virtual assistant, Rea Donato, through a headhunting service called Virtual Staff Finders. Rea has been with me as a full-time employee since then until last year when she took her dream job (for now, at least) with Divi. Now she works for me as a contractor. Hiring Rea allowed me to learn more about the Philippines and its culture. I could do so much more for her family with my money than I could do for anyone here.
Over the years, I've helped pay for items they needed, such as an aunt's medical treatment. A very generous friend and I even helped rebuild her house, which gave her a bedroom and office space and allowed her mom to open up a convenience store from their home.
I've also hired from iWorker, a virtual professional company that specializes in countries in crisis. I've had team members from Venezuela and Kenya.
Our RaderCo give back every quarter is to Kiva. Kiva is a micro-lending organization where 100% of your loan supports borrowers in economically, politically, or socially impoverished countries. Most of these people don't have access to business loans as we do in the US, and this is how they can build their own businesses and provide for their families. As borrowers pay the loan back, we get to turn around and donate the money to someone new. I received a $100 gift card to Kiva for referring someone to my former business coach, Vania Clark-Butler. It started a tradition at RaderCo that has grown each year.
I used Kiva lending as a teaching method with Rea. Every quarter we would pull up women in the Philippines and determine who we wanted to give money to based on their years in business and the likelihood of repayment. We often chose single mothers since her father died when she was eleven or who had little convenience stores like her mom. If we see someone needing a toilet for their home, we always choose them first because of…dignity.
We've helped women in Mexico with dental surgery (because again…dignity) and most recently in Ghana, where I vacationed this year.
Doing this every quarter keeps it top of mind for us to support this cause. You can keep using that money even if you only fund it once. I add to it every anniversary and have matched it with bonuses. It's fun to find a new person to help.
RaderCo also has a budget each year for donating to client causes. We've recently contributed to Team in Training and Girls on the Run. A few years ago, we wrote a check to a local theater supported by our client, Tevet.
Team Service Days
One of RaderCo's top clients, Blueprint Medicines, has regular community service days where they volunteer for organizations as a team. Raleigh Founded, my beloved co-working community, got involved with The Great Raleigh Cleanup, a public group for people who want to keep Raleigh from looking like a dumpster overturned on the city.
It doesn't matter how small your company is. You can make a difference by starting with even just $100, as we did. You can set aside $100 and donate $25 to the first four people that request it. Or, take a percentage of each contract and contribute to a mission your client supports or your own. Alternatively, give a gift card like my coach Vania instead of giving out referral cash. It's a lasting impact that lives much longer than a gift card for coffee.
Or you can donate your time as a team or compensate team members for donating their time to a cause important to them for a certain number of hours per year. Using an app like Charity Miles allows your employees to log their miles and donate to a company or individual charity.
From a personal standpoint, the Rader-Rhodenbaugh household supports by being sustainers. It makes it easy because we don't have to think about it, and it's already budgeted. If we had to write the check every month, it would be too easy to say, ‘this month is lean' or ‘we're saving to get new siding; let's skip this month.'
We're sustainers for National Public Radio and the Fistula Foundation.
What's a fistula? We don't have them here, but in less developed parts of the world, or where girls (because they certainly aren't women) have babies, they are a common enough occurrence. An obstetric fistula is a hole between the bladder and rectum. It causes incontinence of urine and stool. The victims are shunned by their community and can't work because of the constant smell. Much worse, their baby has often died due to long labor, a c-section that they don't have access to, or when the pelvis is too narrow.
Since my first job out of college, I've supported the Fistula Foundation, paying for transportation and eventually making enough money to pay for one surgery monthly. It almost feels selfish the joy and satisfaction I get by saving one woman's dignity every month for the last decade. Even when I quit my job and made very little money, I made sure I saved enough money in my Freedom Fund that the Fistula Foundation donation wouldn't be touched.
It's easy to contribute by being a sustainer for an organization, even starting with as little as ten dollars. If you don't trust yourself to write a check monthly, set it and forget it.
I'd love to hear how you, as an individual or your company, give back.