Making millions of dollars isn’t the best indicator of success, even if most people celebrate material gain. Success comes from giving back to others. It’s your ability to mentor that new intern, volunteer in your community or raise awareness for important causes.
Shauna Nep, vice president of philanthropy at SB Projects, is an expert at creating social good. She helps recording artists like Justin Bieber and Demi Lovato turn philanthropic ideas into full-blown initiatives. To her, the definition of social good is ever-changing; you do whatever is necessary to improve life on Earth.
“Sometimes that looks like a massive concert raising millions of dollars [for a cause], and sometimes that could be checking in on a friend who I know is having a hard time,” Nep says. “So it really runs the gamut.”
In this episode of Brilliant Thoughts, SUCCESS People Editor Tristan Ahumada talks to Nep about finding and supporting the right causes. They discuss ways to focus your philanthropy and make a difference in the world.
Is it your goal to become a generous, impactful giver? Here are some tips from a professional humanitarian.
Prioritize your philanthropy.
Let’s face it: An entrepreneur’s life is hectic. There are countless tasks to complete, and yesterday’s to-do list can spill into today’s. It’s easy to lose track of philanthropic goals when you’re working hard.
To stay on track, be flexible in your approach. Have a plan to help others while also holding space for the unexpected, such as natural disaster relief or campaigns that go viral overnight. It’s good to have plans and schedules. But when timely issues emerge, it’s OK to reset your priorities.
“If you know anything about our company, you know we do everything really big and impactful,” Nep says. “So when it comes to [philanthropy], it’s no different. There have been times when our entire company has shifted gears from releasing an album to putting on a march on Washington or putting together a benefit concert…. To be able to shift and focus toward the good is really incredible.”
Create a plan for social good.
On the flip side, reacting to every issue can leave you feeling scattered. It’s impossible to back all the social projects out there, so don’t overextend yourself. Instead, create a self-directed plan you can follow 24/7.
1. Find a cause that speaks to you.
The first step is choosing a few causes that matter to you. They can be anything, as long as you’re doing something positive and feel connected to the larger mission.
Today’s biggest issues are:
- Stopping gun violence
- Dismantling racism
- Ending police brutality
- Advocating for mental health
- Expanding voting rights
- Supporting the LGBT community
What will you support going forward? Search deep within and examine how you feel about the issues above and other causes gaining momentum. For some people, joining an existing initiative, like the ones above, is ideal. Others find an overlooked problem and start a campaign to get people talking. It’s up to you.
“What are the issues that are really driving you and keeping you up at night?” Nep says. “What are the issues you want to focus on?”
2. Use your strengths to serve the cause.
Once you know what you’re fighting for, the next step is determining how you’ll make a difference. Do you have unique skills that leaders and organizers can put to use? If so, identify those strengths so you can work within your passion or purpose.
- Create a social campaign to drive awareness?
- Write grant proposals for a nonprofit?
- Use your online presence to host a digital fundraiser?
- Cater a nonprofit event?
There’s no right or wrong answer; it just depends on your passion and how you want to express it.
3. Ask for help.
Know you aren’t the only one fighting for social good. Globally, there are thousands (possibly millions) of grassroots organizers with years of activism experience. Follow these leaders on social media if you’re unsure of what to do first. With a quick DM (or simply reading their tweets), you’ll learn where an initiative is headed and how you can help.
Nep does something similar for SB Projects. When she needs help with a philanthropy project, she talks to the company’s business partners. They have unique expertise that helps her organize faster.
“In those moments, it just expands our knowledge base because we can’t be experts on every single topic,” Nep says.
Humanitarian work is good for the soul. Sacrificing your time and energy to think of someone else, even for a day, can make you a happier person. Just remember that we’re meant to thrive together, not alone. Seek out other humanitarians; make your philanthropy a group effort.