THE BLOG

How to Create a Caring Society Despite a Conservative Government

11/05/2015 11:35 BST | Updated 08/05/2016 10:59 BST

So, that was the election, and we can expect the current focus on the economy and business to continue. I am enough of a capitalist to appreciate and respect free enterprise, and I am grateful for my business success, as well as support I've had from government schemes, especially over the past few years. I certainly expect the focus on, and help given to, entrepreneurs will continue with the Conservatives maintaining their place in government. It may even increase over the next few years. So, that is the good news about the UK election result. It is a win for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial people in the UK.

But what about the rest of society - the ones that other political parties seem to put higher on their agenda than the current government? Some mock those parties and their supporters, calling them 'bleeding hearts'. I don't think you need to have a bleeding heart to care about other people. Caring about and helping others doesn't need to take anything away from your own success. A focus on society as well as looking after yourself and your business - these can co-exist; they are not mutually exclusive.

I believe very strongly in the axiom "To whom much is given, much is expected."

I also believe that those of us to whom the most has been given (and I include myself here, as I'm apparently one of the richest 1.3% of the world's population, according to www.givingwhatyoucan.org the most is expected.

According to that website, if I were to give ten percent of my net earnings to charity or causes I believed in, I would still be in the top 1.7% richest people in the world.

Why give ten percent, and what good could/would that do?

The percentage comes from a concept called tithing, originated by the Church, but it still makes sense, no matter the recipient of your money. Several years ago, after listening to an inspirational speaker talking about tithing, I made a personal commitment to give ten percent of my net earnings to charity. I kept that level of giving going for quite some time, even when my salary dipped to about £9000 one year, in the early years of being self-employed.

However, as my earnings have gone up and up, I have not increased my level of giving accordingly. At a time when I am earning more than ever, I am giving less than ever, proportionately. It is my belief that many other wage-earners, be they employed or self-employed, are in a similar situation.

What percentage of your net salary do you give to charity or good causes? Ask yourself this. Charity is a private, very personal decision so I don't expect you to declare the amount or the percentage below, unless you want to.

Many people give something back when they feel they can, when there is a campaign on, such as Comic Relief, or when someone shakes a tin in their face. Others have standing orders set up, so money leaves their bank account every month. However, speaking to friends and colleagues, the percentage given on an annual basis tends to be much lower than ten percent. Even amongst the most successful business leaders and entrepreneurs. Imagine if people did give that much, and the good that it could do.

Have a look at the website www.givingwhatyoucan.org and calculate your own earnings, wealth and level of giving. Decide for yourself the right level for you, today, and what you aspire to give going forward. Maybe you can begin to give more and increase this over time.

Do you feel you are successful? Do you earn a 'good salary'? In the UK, millions of people earn not only enough to live, but also to have disposable income to spend on things like dining out, entertainment, holidays, gadgets, clothes and much more. So many of us could give 10% and still live very well on the rest. It's simply a decision.

Could you live on 90% of what you bring home, instead of 100%. What sacrifices would you have to make, and would they be worth it?

Giving back doesn't only have to be about money. Do you or could you volunteer your time to charities, or groups of people? Place a value on that time, and count that too, if you like. Look for ways to give young people, long-term unemployed people, ex-service personnel and other deserving people a helping hand to get into work, or back into work.

But it is money, and in particular, money given by real people to real causes, that will enable serious change in our society. If you run your own business, you can make all sorts of things happen. If you don't run your own business, the money you give could enable some very worthy charities who do this exact sort of work.

This is the entrepreneur's gift. This is the true meaning of free enterprise - to use enterprise to create freedom for as many people as possible. It offers us incredible hope and an opportunity to shift important things in our society. It is why entrepreneurs and successful business leaders really do have the ability to create that shift!

I feel privileged to be writing this post at my own computer in my own home with a roof over my head, having just had a shower with clean, hot running water, eaten a good breakfast and earning enough to live on, as well as to give and still have fun. I encourage you to count your blessings, and your money, and decide if you could do more, no matter who is allegedly running the country.