When You Discover Philanthropy is a Four-Letter Word in Business

2min read

It was last Fall and I was sitting in a meeting with a representative from a well-respected financial institution, at a conference I had tried for years to score an invite to. I had set up meetings with a variety of people from a range of companies, some with a goal of potentially partnering with, others to hear how they would value my business.

For this specific meeting, the goal was the latter. I thought the meeting was going really well – the gentleman was very impressed with the financials of the business, the growth year over year and the industries we were focused on. Just before we were wrapping up, he turns to me and says, "so what's the deal with all of this money I hear you donate to charity?" I explained to him that philanthropy has always been a core tenet of EvolveMKD, and for me personally, I've always felt that when you are lucky enough to have success, it is your responsibility to make the world around you a better place. The meeting then took a quick turn towards negative town – he immediately started lecturing me about how I was impacting the long-term value and potential sale price of EvolveMKD – saying that any investor, private equity company or services network would immediately look at that as a waste of revenue. I politely thanked him for his perspective and ended the meeting.

Let's start with the obvious falsehoods around his point of view. Good karma and doing the right thing aside, EvolveMKD specifically focuses on charities that empower women and children in the U.S., working with organizations ranging from Safe Horizon, a shelter for domestic violence victims, MaxInMotion, founded by our longtime client, Jonah Shacknai and DREAM, an after-school athletics program and charter school located in Harlem. These organizations provide the participants access to resources and programs that they didn't have before – for example, many of the kids that participate in DREAM are the first in their families to go to college. From my perspective, those are all future well-educated consumers of many of the clients my company represents. More consumers equal more business, which helps fuel my agency's future growth. We also have hosted many events for DREAM students in our offices, which has resulted in us finding talented and hardworking long-term interns. Most recently, we hosted a group of high-school and college-aged students from the DREAM organization, educating them on the public relations industry and offering career advice. To see our very own senior intern, who we discovered through DREAM, lead a presentation about PR and Digital marketing to a group of students her own age was truly a rewarding moment.

The other business angle that was never considered by the gentleman I met with is how amazing of a business development and recruiting tool a commitment to philanthropy can be for a company. While we don't go overboard promoting our philanthropic efforts, we do highlight our commitment as a core principle of the agency in every new business presentation we do, as having values that match, is an important component of a successful agency/client partnership.

More often than not, when we sign on a new client, our agency's commitment to philanthropy comes up as one of the top five reasons EvolveMKD stood out from the competition. In our recruiting, the candidates will often come to interviews, asking about the opportunity to involve causes that are near and dear to their hearts and how they can potentially work them into EvolveMKD's programming. It's also been a huge part of our company culture – between donating our time, meeting new people and the financial support we provide, it's given the team a chance to bond and see one another in a different light. Plus, it never hurts to be reminded how much we have to be grateful for, especially on tough days, when nothing seems to go right with clients.

As I reflected more on that meeting, and the gentleman's reaction, I really felt that he was missing the big picture. Not only are we redirecting dollars to those most in need and providing our employees with something bigger than themselves to believe in, we are building our bottom line through philanthropy. That meeting helped to cement to me that if I ever do decide to take on outside investment, a partner, and/or sell business, an important part of my vetting process will be to determine how the company across the negotiating table views philanthropy. Philanthropy should be seen as a 5-letter word and that is "smart".

How to Learn Much More From the Books You Read

It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.

Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.

Read with a Purpose

Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.

Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.


When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.


Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.

Speed Read

You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.

Quality Reading

Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.

Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.


If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.

Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.