IAC Professionals, an outsourcing company specializing in Accounting, Virtual Assistant and Transcription services, is committed to helping entrepreneurs and small businesses increase their bottom line. By taking over the managerial duties and operations, it allows businesses to focus on achieving goals and advancing their company vision. But it doesn’t end there. Heather Villa, Founder, believes in a partnership that fosters financial growth and goodwill. In that spirit, she has incorporated a “Giving Back” program to match contributions to a variety of causes and charitable organizations through everyday functions required to keep a business running. The beauty of the concept is that these regular business activities feed the ongoing support for charities, making mundane tasks meaningful, and creating a profit margin that’s as healthy as it is philanthropic.
1. How do you define for-profit philanthropy?
Philanthropy is about doing good in the world. It needs to be proactive and selfless. When I say “proactive,” I mean not waiting for the needy to knock on your door, but going out to fill the need. And when I say “selfless,” I mean that you’re not giving to someone with the hope that they give something back to you. For-profit philanthropy can still be a selfless act and, in fact, actually helps you to be more selfless.
2. Please describe your philanthropic business plan and your current charitable activities.
IAC-EZ is easy, web-based do-it-yourself bookkeeping software for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners. These business owners subscribe to the software and use it to keep their business’ bookkeeping up-to-date, entirely online. With each new sign-up, a portion of that initial fee goes to our highlighted charity of the month.
The program is called “Giving Back” and we’ve partnered with specific organizations that meet important needs. And, as we partner with the charitable organizations, we work with them to make sure that our contribution is maximized – not spent on administrative effort. And while research and scientific discovery is important, we want to have an impact on people’s lives. So, some of our charities in 2009 include Locks of Love, the American Cancer Society, and the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation – charities that touch people’s lives.
3. How do you communicate the impact of these efforts to your customers?
Although there are other places where it might be mentioned, we have a web page where our philanthropic vision is communicated. And, our primary means of “open” communication to all users, and potential users, is our blog where we give more details about each charity, as well as periodic updates on the amount of money earned at the end of the month.
4. Why do you think it’s important for companies to adopt philanthropy as part of their revenue model?
First, the obvious part: Every human being has a social responsibility to help others as their means permit; and that needs to happen selflessly, without the hope of getting something in return. Organizations, which are revenue-generating extensions of our humanity, are a great vehicle to make that happen in a significant way.
But there’s more. Businesses that give back win in different ways: Customers feel good about doing business with an organization with a heart. Employees feel good about working with an organization that makes a difference. When you compare two companies in which all other aspects are equal, the philanthropic business will enjoy better customer retention and lower employee turnover.
And, the idea of doing good in the world will extend beyond charity. An employee who buys into the mindset of a philanthropic employer is more likely to think twice before throwing out that stack of paper that could be used first as scrap paper, then recycled and a manager in the same company will more likely consider the long-term costs of buying cheap computers versus eco-friendly computers that use less power. These two examples show the reduction of office expenses as a direct result of a philanthropic mindset, but there are so many other positive business-impacting scenarios as well.
5. What would you say is the most critical element in successfully implementing philanthropic endeavors?
Actually, I think there are three elements and they all must be in place.
First, congruence. The philanthropic efforts need to match who you are. The charities that IAC-EZ contributes to, for example, are close-to-home for us for a number of reasons. We don’t just pick charities out of a hat; they somehow reflect who we are.
Second, authenticity. The contribution needs to be meaningful and significant. Customers can see right through “phake-anthrophy.”
Third, communication. It needs to be communicated, and even celebrated. And it’s okay to do that because celebrating those successes will help other businesses to catch on to the importance as well.
Name: Heather Villa
Title: CEO & Founder
Company: IAC Professionals
Website: http://iacez.com and http://iacprofessionals.com
Contact: Toni Simoni (assistant): 786.214.6046, ext 1019 or Toni@iacprofessionals.com