Integrous Women has a mission to empower heart-centered women to leave a legacy with integrity, and one of our most important pillars for establishing a legacy with integrity is to give forward.

The act of giving forward in business is usually not solely the product of a moral imperative. Often and unfortunately for many big companies, it is used as a measure to promote a better image, especially in the fallout of bad business decisions. Charitable donations, benefit events, pledge-drives, and the extra dollar spent to feed a family while purchasing a Big Mac are all ways in which these companies give forward, but almost as an afterthought. The good news? We as a society are demanding more accountability, and as a result, we see businesses building social responsibility into their practices from the outset.

For Integrous Women, social responsibility is in the name but also in the practice. Our intended positive impact is two-tier:

First, we partner with organizations already serving communities in need and through our collective impact models, we work together to address the communities’ biggest challenges with the goal of creating sustainable and thriving solutions. This year we partnered with a local non-profit, Western Youth Services, to provide a mental health program for our partner orphanage, Esperanza y Futuro, in Guatemala.

Second, we provide our members with the resources, expertise, and vision to build giving forward into their business practices. Last Saturday, we hosted a Giving Forward Panel and our members learned how social enterprises combine the business and nonprofit sectors to make for a sustainable cause.

Here are several lessons learned from our panelists:

1. Business for the right reasons.

Jordan Bartlett, from Doing Good Works, says “Business can be the biggest change maker, if you use it for the right reasons.” His work involves partnering businesses’ for-profit expertise with purpose. Often those who have built successful businesses eventually seek to give forward, but rather than starting their own charitable pet projects, Jordan encourages them to leave a legacy by partnering with nonprofit organizations already addressing these causes.

2. The meaning of leaving a legacy.

When prompted with the question, “What does legacy mean to you?” our panelists personally connected to their missions. Candace Thome, from Swim Brayv, says leaving a legacy means seeing results. Her nonprofit organization provides drowning prevention education to children and parents. According to Helen Morton, the Head of International Advocacy at the RNLI, “Drowning is a silent epidemic. Responsible for more deaths each year than international development priorities including malnutrition and maternal mortality, it goes unrecognized and under-resourced.” Candace, in learning the cause lacked outreach and direct services, created Swim Brayv as a direct effort to raise awareness and lower statistics.

3. Getting started.

So grateful for their insights, we asked our panelists how we can get started with our own personal missions to leave a positive impact. Jordan emphasized building a network, “Start talking about it. Make it real. Tell people what you want to do, and you would be surprised how many want to be involved.” Candace spoke on balancing proactivity with patience, “You can’t sit and wait for things to happen, because they won’t. At the same time, you can plan and plan and plan, and at the end of the day, nothing is truly in your control. Be excited, be ready, but when a misstep occurs, go with the flow.”

If you are ready to give forward and want to make an impact with fellow Integrous Women, join us on our upcoming Impact Trip to Guatemala from September 21-29th. We will be staying with our partners at Esperanza y Futuro, engaging in activities with the children, reflecting together as Integrous Women, and exploring the local culture. You can sign up for more information here.

Most importantly, don’t forget to #beintegrous!

Marah Stevenson