QNET is a company that proudly touts its admiration of Gandhi; the company was founded on many principles that the famed humanitarian long advocated, principles of service and sacrifice. Not all companies have such lofty origins, of course, nor do many small businesses laud famous humanitarians as business touchstones. With that said, studies indicate that more and more businesses are engaging in philanthropy, a trend from which even the smallest enterprises are not exempt.
That more and more companies are giving to charity is difficult to argue with; the real question is how. For the business owner, philanthropy may seem like the right thing to do morally, but not necessarily something that is logistically or financially viable. The truth is, however, corporate responsibility is both an ethical imperative and a business boon. In the paragraphs that follow, the team explains why this is.
Though QNET bases many of its values on the teachings of Gandhi, it also has a corporate philosophy that is entirely its own. That philosophy comes with a simple acronym, RYTHM—or, Raise Yourself to Help Mankind. The idea behind this is simple: You empower yourself first, so that you are then able to go out there and help others.
The company has described this simple philosophy as both the how and the why behind its corporate philanthropy, and in many ways, the RYTHM mantra does indeed dovetail nicely with the company’s day-to-day workings. As a direct selling company, QNET is all about empowering entrepreneurs. By becoming distributors for the company, individuals essentially get to launch and run their own small businesses—thereby empowering themselves, gaining independence and cultivating the necessary skills of leadership and organization.
Through this empowerment, however, individuals are also exhorted to learn the value of service. As distributors are empowered, they are not just better able to advance their own careers, but also to make a difference in the lives of those around them. The alignment between entrepreneurship and the RYTHM philosophy is the cornerstone on which this enterprise is founded.
“Many of our distributors are able to take the experience they get with us, and the lessons learned, and become wildly successful,” one company spokesperson notes. “We constantly emphasize to them the importance of ‘giving back,’ as this is one of the values on which our own business is founded. You empower yourself, and then you can give back.”
Businesses looking to emulate the QNET approach to corporate philanthropy will also note this important fact: At the company, philanthropy does not end with the writing of a check. The company’s true passion is to support ongoing, sustainable work within the community. It does so by getting directly involved—not just giving of its monetary resources, but also of the time and the passion of its employees and distributors.
To this end, the company’s employees and distributors, throughout the world, are known for volunteering their time and talents to contribute to these community projects, helping get them off the ground, build sustainable momentum, and ultimately make a positive impact in the world. This is a model that other businesses can borrow from, and indeed, the opportunities to truly get involved—beyond just making a monetary donation—are quite numerous:
- Mentoring kids is an exceptional way to volunteer, whether it’s in a local school system, in an orphanage, or in a slum. Some of the folks at QNET, for instance, are involved with teaching basic computer skills to slum children.
- There are equally many opportunities for companies to take part in environmental projects. This might be something as simple as planting trees in a community area, or doing coastal cleanup in a beach community.
- Other examples include volunteering in hospitals and nursing homes, simply bringing cheer to patients and residents; serving meals at a homeless shelter, or sorting clothes at a clothing drive; organizing a charity walk or run; and beyond.
Sometimes, of course, all of this activity will result in some positive press clippings for the business in question; in other words, it is not just good on a moral level, but perhaps on a business level, too. More often, though, this work will not generate media buzz—and QNET says that this is okay. The real impact is measured by those who benefit from this good work, who will surely recognize and celebrate it.
Incidentally, none of this is meant to suggest that there is anything wrong with writing a check. The RYTHM philosophy leaves ample room for the notion that, in many cases, financial underwriting is the best way to make a difference. When it comes to supporting cancer or HIV research, for instance, companies can often make the most direct impact by writing a check. This should not be the sole focus of any corporate giving initiative, however.
Perhaps the most important point to make about the company’s approach to philanthropy, however, is that it is by no means an attempt to reap financial benefits, to network, or to generate publicity. Sometimes these peripheral benefits emerge, and companies can certainly plan on seeing some pragmatic rewards for their philanthropic activity. For a company like this one, though, philanthropy is done because it is a part of the corporate DNA. At QNET, philanthropy is an integral part of the business’ goals: Its primary drive, day in and day out, is to create entrepreneurs, empower them, and then encourage them to help those around them. Philanthropy is not just a small component of the company, then, but rather it is the cornerstone of its company culture.
Through this company culture, the enterprise wants nothing less than to change the world—a lofty undertaking, but also a worthy one, for a business that bases its ideals on the work of Gandhi. The company encourages other businesses to learn from its own philanthropic model, and to join them in making the world a more positive place. This is an overwhelming task, to be sure, but one QNET says is doable when everyone works together for a common good.