Startups have a unique opportunity to build the concept of "giving back" into the company culture from the very beginning. This is core to Twitter and other startups I'm involved with such as Trazzler and Square where I am a director and investor, respectively. Entrepreneurs are realizing that they don't need to wait until they have big piles of money to start helping others in need. In fact, the earlier you align your company with social causes, the better. With an early start, the results can have more impact over time.
On a personal level, my wife and I have found ways give even when we were in debt through volunteering. We found this work to be rewarding on many levels—helping others really does work both ways. When we started earning more substantive amounts of money, we were able to put more funding toward charitable causes each year. These days, as previous investments begin to pay off and new opportunities present themselves, Livia and myself find ourselves in the fortunate position to contribute even more significantly.
Our modest work with the charitable organizations we have been involved with over the years has been incredibly rewarding and we're excited to start something that we hope will grow more powerful in this space over time. The Biz and Livia Stone Foundation will be a private, hands-on organization which we will fund personally. We're just getting it started with help from lawyers and it will take a while to get non-profit status but our charitable mission in general will be supporting the arts, education, health, and environmental issues.
Whether it's tied to an entrepreneurial vision or simply made part of your every day life, giving pays back in ways you might not anticipate. Whether you're helping a teacher and classroom in need, donating clothes or canned foods to a local shelter, volunteering for disaster relief, or giving up your birthday to help others get clean water, you're doing something that makes a difference in the world. Don't think you have to wait to do these things—get started right away because here's the secret: there is compound interest in altruism.