When Manick Bhan started his third tech company, LinkGraph, his goal wasn’t to achieve the next level of personal success.
“I had already experienced what it felt like to achieve success– it’s empty if you don’t have something bigger you’re fighting for,” said Bhan.
Philanthropy became the main motivating factor for Bhan as he scaled LinkGraph, a digital agency and marketing software company with offices worldwide. Instead of maximizing profits for the sake of investors, he was focused on the concept of “earning to give” a central tenet of Effective Altruism, a movement supported by other tech stars like Bill Gates, Dustin Moscovitz and Sheryl Sandberg.
“Being able to have an impact on reducing suffering became such a powerful motivator for me. It helped me solve business problems more effectively because there was this underlying current pulling me towards a bigger goal.”
Last year Bhan donated over $250k to various organizations supporting animal rights, climate justice and social justice initiatives. One thing Bhan wishes other companies knew? It pays to be generous in the long run.
“Our focus on charitable giving has helped us recruit some amazing like-minded team members who want to be a part of something meaningful. It’s also been a great talking point with our clients. Once a year we offer a matching contribution to our existing clients where we donate to a charity of their choice. It helps us create more alignment and has been good for business.”
For companies looking to lean more into corporate philanthropy, Bhan suggests the following:
- Choose your charity wisely. “I believe a good charity should be run like a lean start-up. Too many organizations have a large overhead and unclear results. Look at resources from evaluators like Giving What We Can to help you decide where your money can do the most good.”
- Create a matching program where you match employee contributions to charities. “It creates a lot of alignment and is a wonderful way to increase engagement in the larger company goals.”
- If money is tight, consider organizing a volunteer activity or off-site for your team.
What’s next for Bhan? Redefining what corporate philanthropy looks like by expanding the LinkGraph Service Corp program where employees use their skill sets to help non-profits solve specific problems. “We’ve seen some really great success having our public relations team work part-time as an external team for various non-profits who don’t have the funds for a full-time hire. Instead of just writing a check, we’re able to create solutions for charities utilizing the talent on our team.”
Programs like Bhan’s have been implemented and scaled at companies as large as JP Morgan Chase with successful outcomes ranging from improved employee engagement and effective outcomes for the partner charities.
The future of philanthropy looks bright for Bhan as he continues to scale LinkGraph which this year was featured in spot 1234 on Inc’s 5000 List of Fastest Growing Companies as well as a top spot on AdWeek’s Fastest Growing Agencies in America. With an agency and SEO software disrupting the marketing industry, Bhan’s opportunity to give back grows greater everyday.
Says Bhan, “If all you’re chasing is money, you’ll burn out eventually. Focusing on philanthropy gives me the energy to scale LinkGraph to new heights.”
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