• Mark Topley

Ways to Make a Difference – Part 1

Last week I kicked off my MAD (Make a Difference) month with a post on why making a difference is so important. In fact, it’s one of the most common things that my clients give as a motivation at our discovery session. Richard Branson summed it up pretty well:

“As I grew older it seemed that I was not making a big enough difference, particularly given my own incredible good fortune. I went from feeling content that things were going well, to realising that I hadn’t even begun to scratch the surface of what needed to be done.” Richard Branson

Personally, the MAD thing has always been a part of my career. Teaching, community projects, charities, and now catalysing others to organise their CSR, I’ve loved everything I’ve done.

But I’ve also loved the personal challenge side of things. Climbing mountains, long distance treks, the Great Wall of China, and cycling from southern France to northern Spain through the Pyrenees. I’ve witnessed and experienced how life changing a personal challenge can be for the participants.

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” Emerson

So how do we make a difference? Especially when life is busy enough as it is? How can you take the first step to satisfying that nagging feeling that you could be doing something more? This week we’ll look at 3 things – fundraising, volunteering time, and volunteering skills.


There simply is no limit to the number of things, from the mundane to the outright crazy that you can do to get people to part with their cash for a good cause. And it doesn’t have to be big. I always encourage first time fundraisers to start small and build things up. For your business it could be as simple as a bake sale or a sponsored exercise bike in reception, to a full on family fun day or an overseas challenge. 

The important thing is to find a range of things that will appeal to the different people in your business during the year. Put them into a plan, and use the events as a means to draw patients and customers into your CSR.

I have a comprehensive list of ideas that I’ve used which I supply to my clients. If you’d like a copy, just email me and I’ll be happy to pass one on.

Volunteer your time

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” Edmund Burke

I have no doubt that there are good causes in your area that could use some of your time. And it doesn’t have to be a lot. Obviously a regular commitment is better, but ad hoc or one off volunteering is valuable too. One of my client’s teams will be volunteering over Easter to re-paint classrooms in their local special school (one of their chosen charities for 2019).

Establishing a relationship with local charities that fit your business gives you the opportunity to give time when you can, or make it a regular event. Another client I work with has their team volunteer each month at a homeless charity.

Volunteer your skills

What do you know how to do that you could teach other people?

I love this one. I led the dental charity Bridge2Aid for several years, and our centrepiece was mobilising volunteer dental professionals in 2 week blocks. The teams trained medical workers in Tanzania in safe extraction techniques. It ticked every box when it comes to the very best kind of volunteering, and created a legacy of trained personnel I am immensely proud of.

It doesn’t have to be this big. All businesses are in a great position to volunteer skills, and do pro bono work. It could be free marketing offered to charities, a free website, or in the case of dentists, free treatment to marginalised groups.

Connections with schools are also powerful. Mentoring schemes for older pupils, providing structured work experience, and teaching interview and practical work place skills are all things that you can offer.

But you do need a plan!

Nothing happens, even good things, without concerted effort. And a MAD plan help you get there.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

I know you want to make a difference and I hope that this Blog helps you see a way forward for you and your team. The challenge is always that life is busy and we can end up feeling like we just don’t have time. I understand that, and have had to overcome it myself. But it is possible – just start small and make a commitment. I’m cheering you on!

When you’re ready to make this a solid part of your business, give me a call to discuss how I can help.

Next week – MAD through giving – and there are several ways to do it.

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