From Give and Take to Give and Get: A CFO’s Journey
“The best way to Get is by Giving. God has given us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with. The more the hand that gives is busy, the more will you be blessed and will get in abundance.”- My Dad’s last message to me hours before he passed away
Warmth. This is the sensation that fills your heart with immense joy when you decide to do something for the larger good. Such is the joy of giving. It is the feeling you get when you are the reason behind someone’s smile, the sentiment you experience when what you did relieves or reduces someone’s misery and the notion that your action somewhat has given one a renewed perspective towards one’s life. And it gives you as much as it gives the receiver, if not more. My own journey of giving found its roots in my life as a CFO.
Money doing good
The key question I ask on anything that is brought in front of me for approval is: What is the ROI for this? It is the most critical question to ask whenever you are spending—or indeed, not spending. If it is spending, is that the best way to spend it? If I refrain from spending, then is that saving just there for security or is it way more than what is needed for security and can be spent on something more worthwhile. In a nutshell: is that money doing good?
This forms the core philosophy I follow—not just in my professional capacity but also as an individual. Whatever you spend, wherever you invest, it should be the best use of that money, whether it is for you, your company, your people or the community. So when I look at spending, these are the four parameters I look at—I look for whether there is a balance in my spending among them and whether I am getting the best ROI. And the best ROI for money is money doing good. For me personally, Life is precious and precedes everything and no child should die due to lack of funds for treatment and there can be no better ROI supporting these children in need and giving life a chance.
Where the heart beats
In my personal and professional journeys, I have realised that life is not about wealth accumulation. It’s about living a good life. In my experience, a good life is about maintaining a balance—in everything, including spending and saving. When you spend, choose carefully where you spend. There are needs and wants to be addressed. Beyond that, what is it that you care about—a cause that matters to you, a way that you want to make a difference to society. Be associated with that cause, so that you can go beyond chequebook philanthropy.
Often those who are inclined to do good get stuck at trying to figure out which charity to contribute towards- time or money. I believe it has to be something close to your heart, where you think you can make the maximum impact- maximise ROI. And if you still can’t make up your mind, look at your role models and peers and see where they are putting in their efforts. That way you can add your muscle to their work. That is what I did. I saw Prema Sagar and the tireless work she is doing at Genesis Foundation (GF) and decided to add might, energy and legs to her efforts.
For those who don’t know, Genesis Foundation supports the treatment of critically ill under-privileged children with Congenital Heart Defects (CHD). It’s mission is simple—Save Little Hearts. GF believes that life is precious, and no child should die due to lack of funds or medical treatment. We envision an India devoid of deaths caused due to CHD because of lack of awareness, diagnosis or resources. Touching the lives of children from tribal areas to metro cities, GF has supported over 1650 children till date. I volunteer with GF to support in fund raising for child surgery, whether it is in the form of CSR partnerships or in terms of getting sponsors for its fund-raising events.
Getting more than giving
What started as a way of supporting Prema’s work became something far more personal—it became my own cause, my purpose of life, my own journey, my own source of immense satisfaction. The shift happened when I realised that the beneficiaries of the Foundation and their families were not the only ones getting something out of this. I was getting a lot too. An individual is rich in his or her truest sense when they participate in the act of giving. To support others makes you look beyond yourself. It dawns upon you the trivial nature of your problems and gives you a glimpse of the bigger picture. This is how the act of giving begins—by keeping your worries at bay and empathising with the outside world and identifying who needs your aid.
This was really brought home to me recently after my father passed away. In the depths of my grief, I happened to visit one of the children GF supports. Interacting with the child, who was cheerful and smiling even though she had just gone through surgery and must have been in pain, I was reminded that there is a lot to be thankful for in my life and that there is a lot to be done. It gave me both, a reason to smile and a purpose to channel my energies towards.
To all those reading this, I urge you to give ‘giving’ a chance. Identify a cause, and if that’s confusing, why not support something where you know the people involved—like Prema in the communications industry. Or find something close to your heart. No matter how big or small, no matter whether it’s in monetary form or your time and expertise, your contribution matters. And when you see the impact of your actions without expecting anything in return, you will realize what you have missed so far and the sheer contentment your soul gets by a single act of kindness.
My dad a great influence in my life and my mentor always said, “The purpose of life is to serve, to give, to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
I agree with dad and urge all to Save Little Hearts, Spread Joy, Make a difference, that’s a life lived well!
–Contributed by Kriti Makhija, Volunteer – Genesis Foundation and Chief Financial & Compliance Officer, Genesis Burson-Marsteller