Paying it forward — performing a good deed for someone, without any expectation of repayment — long ago morphed into something larger in the corporate realm. The idea of a community-minded company, of a company with a conscience, dates back to at least the 1950s, according to one book.

Far more recent was the formation in 2010 of The Giving Pledge, by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates, under which 40 of the wealthiest individuals and couples in the United States pledged to give half their wealth away.

In addition, the 20 most charitable companies donated some $3.5 billion in 2015, according to Fortune, headed by Gilead Sciences ($446.7 million), Walmart ($301 million), Wells Fargo ($281.3 million), Goldman Sachs ($276.4 million) and Exxon ($268 million). That, of course, doesn’t even begin to take into account the time commitment on the part of employees.

This outward-looking focus — Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), as it has come to be called — benefits givers as much as those who receive. One report indicates that paying it forward improves staff morale, attracts positive publicity (not to mention more customers) to your business, allows you to unearth previously unknown talents within your staff and impacts the well-being of the individuals involved.

Those who give tend to be happier and healthier, that same report says. They are more well-adjusted, less stressed and have a greater feeling of belonging. They also tend to have a more favorable impression of their companies.

When considering how best a company can pay it forward, Zeynep Ilgaz, co-founder and president of Confirm Biosciences and TestCountry, writes on that businesses should think locally and consider charitable endeavors aligned with their core values. And yes, she adds, it should be a team-wide effort.

Here are the best ways companies can engage in this practice:

  1. Get involved in Pay It Forward Day: This global initiative aims, according to its website, to create “a huge ripple of kindness … across the world.” Scheduled for April 28 this year, it involves 80 nations and has been the subject of 100 state and city proclamations. The stated goal is 10 million acts of kindness — everything from donating to a worthwhile cause to paying for a stranger’s cut of coffee, from collecting books to giving one’s time and/or skill.

  2. Adopt a Company Charity: And along with that, engage all employees in the effort. Maybe that means organizing a five-kilometer race to raise money for an animal shelter. Maybe that means encouraging staffers to help out at a soup kitchen. Maybe that means sponsoring a youth sports team. There are myriad possibilities.

  3. Make it Competitive: Nothing sparks employees quite like a challenge. If different teams are tasked in a certain amount of time to raise more money, collect more toys, do more public service or perform some other charitable task, there is no telling what might be accomplished. (Even better: the promise on the part of an employer to match the accomplishment of the winner.)

There are other options, of course. This is far from a one-size-fits-all proposition. These, however, loom as the best options of all.


  • Joel Landau

    Joel Landau is an entrepreneur who's started numerous businesses. He's founder of The Allure Group, elder care residencies and rehabilitation centers.

    As an innovator and leader, Joel Landau has a success record which includes introducing technology and incorporating community assets to aid health plans and their provider partners in achieving top-level service and financial stability. Landau has guided many companies and non-profits from struggling and underperforming into stable, patient-focused regional players serving millions of members. In 2012, Joel Landau founded The Allure Group to create centers that provide top healthcare and quality of life throughout New York City and Brooklyn. One of the key improvements Landau adopted is the integration of short-term rehabilitation and long-term nursing care in one place. This enables patients to remain at the center for treatment, eliminating travel to a hospital and the potential exposure to infection and stress. Several of The Allure Group’s centers are tailored to the local communities. To serve the Chinese population in Brooklyn, the Longevity Garden Program operates within the Hamilton Park Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to provide Chinese food and Mandarin-speaking staff. These details give comfort to those receiving care and the families who visit them. Joel Landau is also co-founder and managing director of Pinta Capital Partners, which invests in early to mid-stage healthcare companies for the elderly and underserved populations in New York City including the chronically ill and the disabled. Using his extensive experience, the firm enables healthcare institutions to improve their services while maintaining sustainable growth. Pinta Capital Partners is guided by the principles of increasing access to healthcare, improving patient quality of life, and providing more cost-effective care. This improves the patient experience and the healthcare system at the same time.