Small business philanthropy is a concept that describes the social responsibility of small businesses in giving back to their community. Nash Equilibrium, a Nobel Prize winning concept in game theory, can be applied to explaining why businesses may engage in philanthropic activities even when it is not in their direct self-interest. Nash's Equilibrium simply put is, “a stable state of a system involving the interaction of different participants, in which no participant can gain by a unilateral change of strategy if the strategies of the others remain unchanged." So, we start by framing the local business community and Dallas community at large as a real interconnected system. We begin to see the real probability that each participant in the system's most sustainable, positive, long term outcome is that which focuses on benefiting both themselves and the other participants in the system. When one business in an industry begins to engage in philanthropy, other companies in the industry may feel compelled to do the same in order to avoid being seen as less socially responsible than their competitors. This can lead to a situation where philanthropy becomes the norm within the industry, even though each company may not have chosen to engage in philanthropy on its own. Furthermore, businesses can then strategically and cooperatively plan their philanthropic activities to achieve the greatest social impact while also benefiting their own bottom lines.
The economic benefits of small business philanthropy are particularly apparent in Dallas, Texas. Dallas is home to many small businesses that have made philanthropy a part of their business model. These businesses understand that by giving back to their community, they can strengthen their reputation, increase customer loyalty, and attract new customers. Additionally, small business philanthropy can help to create a sense of community within a city or town. When businesses come together to support a common cause, it can create a sense of camaraderie that can be felt throughout the community.
One of the issues that small businesses in Dallas can be particularly successful in supporting is homelessness. Homelessness affects the health and well-being of the entire community, and it is within the community's power to change the way they address it. By contributing to housing initiatives involving supportive case management professionals, people experiencing homelessness can stabilize their lives, increase their self-sufficiency, and remain in housing, saving the community hundreds of thousands of dollars each year just in unpaid and therefore publicly funded healthcare costs, as just one example.
Moreover, as people become stabilized in housing, their dependence on emergency services visits, and their health outcomes improve significantly. The majority of homeless people lack health insurance, a public provision for healthcare, or a primary care physician. Almost 33% of all visits to the emergency department are made by chronically homeless people. Emergency departments are not equipped to meet the psychosocial needs of homeless patients and do not have the capacity to assist them with housing, substance abuse treatment, or mental healthcare.
Homeless people visit the emergency department an average of five times annually, and the most frequent users visit them weekly. Each visit costs $3,700, amounting to $18,500 spent annually for the average user and up to $44,400 for the most frequent users. On average, homeless people spend three nights per visit in the hospital, which can cost more than $9,000 and Dallas currently has a population of over 4,000 unhoused residents. By contributing to ending homelessness, businesses in Dallas can reduce healthcare utilization and costs which is actually adding to the overall economic growth of Dallas. These unused resources suddenly become available for lawmakers to redirect to civil improvements & infrastructure projects that improve property values as well as addressing other pressing issues for their customers and communities. .
Small business philanthropy also necessarily creates jobs, which in turn create new customers, in an obvious and predictable cyclical pattern. When small businesses give back to their community, they are reinvesting in the local economy which directly supports growth of their own bottom lines. By supporting causes that are important to the community, small businesses are helping to create a sense of place that can attract new residents and businesses to the area. Additionally, small business philanthropy can help to spur innovation and entrepreneurship by providing funding for research and development of more efficient and practical ways to directly address these issues.
Using the concept of Nash Equilibrium can alter the mindset of local businesses towards philanthropic activities. By considering the local economy as a system, we can forsee predictable, positive consequences of businesses focusing on contributing towards social causes, though perhaps not yielding immediate benefits to them. Such actions create a sustainable economic environment that benefits the bottom line of businesses by boosting the real dollar value, spending power and commercial attractiveness of their communities. Therefore focusing on small business philanthropy can have a significant impact on the economy of Dallas, Texas, particularly when addressing the issue of homelessness.
World Change Business Services’ flagship, Shop 2 Save The World Initiative provides local businesses with an easy avenue to contribute to their communities while also enjoying many predictable benefits themselves. When local businesses partner with World Change Business Services for payment processing, World Change Business Services allocates 50% of the generated revenue towards addressing housing, food, and medication insecurity in Dallas. Supported by the award winning Merchant Services Provider, North American Bancard, the program offers comparable, top of line payment processing products and services at the same cost as local businesses’ current providers. The only real difference for local businesses is the automatic allocation of their processing fees to address real community issues.
Local customers can represent a driving force of local businesses positively impacting the system. Customer engagement alerts local businesses of opportunities to take action towards addressing social issues through discussing their support for business initiatives and partnerships that contribute to their communities. Such conversations, accompanied by social media sharing and following, can initiate real action from the business community, (especially when action comes at no additional cost to them.) To support World Change Business Services' Shop 2 Save The World Initiative or any other philanthropic efforts by local businesses, one can simply start by initiating a conversation with a frequented business's owner. Share & follow social media content that is designed to spread awareness through visibility, building momentum for the initiatives you support, and play your own part in saving the world, one person, one community, one planet at a time.
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