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Giving Back: Incorporating Philanthropy in Business

philanthropy in business
Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

When people think of philanthropy, they typically picture rich people in tuxedos and evening gowns showing off their wealth by making extravagant bids at gala auctions. At least that’s what I pictured when I first thought of philanthropy.

In reality, it’s about giving back. It’s about fostering a community and investing back into it as much as you can. People always go straight to the thought of donating money, but really there’s a ton more ways to give back than to just write a check. Let’s dig in.

Please allow me to introduce myself.

I’m Tony Wodarck an award-winning (Thanks to RTS & HoneyBook’s 20 on the Rise) wedding photographer out of Southern California. When I started my business at the end of 2016, I knew I wanted to incorporate some sort of charitable, philanthropic part to my company. I came up with donating 25% of my photography profits to the charity of the couple’s choice. It has been an amazing part of my business that brings me so much joy and helps so many people in need. Surprisingly, this is usually the first time that these couples have ever donated money to any charity. A lot of the times I have to help guide the couple through finding a charity that resonates with them, but some couples have them chosen from the time of inquiry. The couples are including what they’re excited to donate to as they’re reaching out to book me. I love that.

If you’re interested in implementing a sort of give back with your business, here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way about philanthropy.

The Donation Nuts & Bolts

When planning for the philanthropy element of each of my weddings, I work through this process. I project my expenses and cost of doing business (CODB) at the beginning of the year and divide that per wedding. This allows me to come up with an estimated profit per wedding: meaning the total amount they paid minus my expenses & taxes = total net profit. After delivering the final wedding gallery (my job is done), I then take 25% of net profit and ask them which charity they’d like to donate to. I make the donation in honor of them. Since I am making the donation I also get the tax break for my business. One little bonus for giving back and prioritizing philanthropy in business.

I keep my followers updated with all the amazing organizations we’ve donated to, how much money we’ve raised for the year, and share the happiness and progress with everyone. It’s awesome. My business was able to donate over $10,000 last year alone! It helps give a lot more purpose to my business. Also, SO MUCH MONEY is spent on a wedding day, it’s amazing to pull a little piece out of that and give back to others in need.

So that’s the financial side. But like I mentioned, there’s more to giving back than just money. Here are some other ways you can give back:

Philanthropy in Business: Ways You Can Give Back

Donate Your Time

Maybe you are super passionate about the children’s hospital, or the local farm, or people building houses for people in need. Whatever it is, you can donate your time and volunteer to help out. That may mean physical labor, or just seeing what help the organization you’re passionate about needs. Just find an organization you’re interested in and see how you can get involved.


One of my favorite ways to give back is to mentor other photographers. Back at the beginning of my business I found out about Rising Tide Society and fell in love. The idea of Community Over Competition perfectly fits my passion with my business. I’ve had the opportunity to guest lecture at Brianna Broyles’ Shootout Society events, Bree & Stephen’s workshops, and our local college – Laguna College of Art and Design.

Free Education

The majority of my “free time” I spend creating education material for other up and coming photographers. These are all the things I wish I would’ve known when I was starting out. Things like workflow, pre-wedding questionnaires, how to book more clients, CODB, pricing, etc. etc. I love creating it and people are so grateful for the information. I have since started creating YouTube videos to share what I’ve learned over the years with others. The opportunities are endless for sharing there. Even if you’re just getting started, there’s always someone newer than you in their business that could use your help, so remember free education is a great place to begin giving back.

Free Services

I’m a photographer. My talent is in taking photos. So there’s nothing better than me being able to offer someone my skillset for free. One place I’ve worked with over the years is our local farm, The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano, California. It’s a non-profit a mile down the street that educates the community on living a sustainable lifestyle. I’ve photographed several of their events over the years and although they have offered to pay me, I respectfully decline as to help give back even more to their organization.

More than anything, find where your passion lies and consider giving back a bit of your talent to people in need.

Just like saving money, giving back is an easy thing to put off and tell yourself you’ll do it one day when you have more time or more expendable income.

Trust me, there won’t ever be a time, unless you make time.

Figure out some way to start small and incorporate some sort of philanthropic portion to your business. Trust me when I tell you, that you will experience so much joy from helping others. The more you can weave these things into your business and include your clients or your coworkers, the more meaning you will find in the grand scheme of this rat race. Think about the legacy you leave and the people you can impact. Philanthropy should be a main portion of it.

Good luck and get to work!

Ready to dream big about impacting countless others, leave a legacy, and make an impact… without breaking the bank? Get our Ultimate Guide to Philanthropy in Business.

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