One of the blogs I follow is Tom Bailey's "Personal Accountability Log". Tom's blog ties together topics about charity, philanthropy, personal responsibility and positivity. And this blog asks questions about these topics in a unique way that gives the readers the opportunity to really question and comment on the motivations behind philanthropy. Thanks to Tom Bailey for the always interesting and provocative blog posts.
I am a great believer in asking questions and more importantly asking the right questions as a way to make decisions and create new directions in organizations. On Oct. 20th, 2009, Tom's question was: "What do you think about localism in charity?" Coincidentally, I had just written a post on Oct. 18th, "Honors for Every Little Drop" where I honored small businesses that supported local community causes. The major points that I hoped to convey is that small businesses are closest to issues that are local which make them better able to assess the need, to have the opportunity to develop a relationship with the charities, and to have a greater impact on those causes.
The comments to Tom's question ranged from bashing celebrities who have adopted global causes ostensibly for self promotion, to comments about the importance of taking care of problems in our backyard, to comments that state it is really an individual choice.
And so it is really is an individual choice for a small business to decide whether to support local or global causes. But it is not always so obvious how to decide.
The best way to start to think about this decision is to take an example to take example from Tom Bailey and that is to ask questions: questions about what your business really cares about, what causes do the business employees care about, where can a business get involved in such a way that has the most impact, how can a business get involved in other ways than giving money?
The definition of "localism" from dictonary.com is: excessive devotion to and promotion of the interests of a particular locality. Tom's post implied the idea of giving locally, but that ain't necessarily so. Even though it is important to make rational decisions about the best way to give back, whatever causes your business chooses to support, whether they are in your backyard or half way around the world, if you are devoted to that cause and you promote it, it is localism.