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How I Give Back: Zoltan Vass of CoderDog

New and Networking

How I Give Back: Zoltan Vass of CoderDog

Christmas is a time for fun, festivity and cheer; it's also a great opportunity to think about how we can give back to the people around us. If you're running a business, it's important to think about how you can use your platform and resources for good - whether that's promoting a cause, giving away something, or volunteering time. Zoltan Vass, co-founder of web design and development business CoderDog, talks about how his experiences in his home country of Serbia has made him determined to give back, and how every business can contribute to a good cause.

"The world has changed in the last 20 years, and it still keeps changing: technology is improving rapidly, more and more people are born all over the world, but the gap between the rich and poor is rising fast. Not only that, but we're not taking as good care of the environment as we should," says Voltan. "To get back the balance we need to take care about one another; to be human and to respect one another."

Why I wanted to give back

"The idea of giving back was always in my mind, regardless of the fact we were not living in the best conditions during and after the war. Beside my full time job I was organizing music events and festivals with a friend of mine. One day I got bad news that a person who lives in my hometown had problems with his kidney and needed an urgent surgery. They were in a difficult situation as they didn’t have enough money to cover the expenses. I had a chat with my business partner and decided to organize a charity music festival. The event’s name was “Helping Hands”. We invited DJs from different parts of the country and we agreed with most of the DJs that we would only pay their expenses, with the rest of the money going to the person who needed help. The event went down very well, and we managed to collect around 1500 euros, which was a big sum at that time.

This was my first experience of using my business to give back. As you can see, don’t need to be rich to help. Use your skills, organize an event, volunteer, raise funds, use your connections, network - have an idea, and make it work! Since then I've gone on to concentrate on two other main causes.

My first cause was inspired by a video I saw about a family who were starving. A mother was living with her three children on less than £50 a month. It wasn't a new thing to me and I assumed that such a thing could happen in my country, but to see this so undeniably was completely shocking. I therefore decided to raise some funds for this family and to make their Christmas truly memorable.

My second cause was to do with a friend in my hometown who is a professional power lifter - he's won awards and competed in many prestigious competitions - but he struggles with finding the money to attend competitions. The next power-lifting World Cup will be in Chicago in October 2015. To be able to attend the world cup he needs money, and so we're fundraising for him too.

These two causes have led us to think hard about how we can help support families, children who are really in need of help, and also to help great athletes to reach their goal."

Why should you give back - and how?

"Probably most of you who are reading this had a very hard time once in a life when help was needed. Just remember the moment when you got that helping hand, helping you to get out from that situation and to stand up - how did you feel? Helping others and seeing happy faces gives me satisfaction and shows that I’m doing a good thing, which also motivates me to succeed.

Many customers and clients want to see that companies are trying to make the world a better place, caring about the community and about various causes, and not just spending huge amounts of money on luxury goods. One thing that all businesses can do is write into their business plan a strategy on how they can minimise their environmental impact, giving back to the world as a whole.

If you don't have the funds to contribute financially as a startup, try different approaches. You could hold monthly volunteering sessions where the employees can also socialize and can feel that they are an important part of society, organise events to raise funds, and spread the word of causes that are important to you. Every little helps."

Other things to consider

"There are many causes that you can support: the environment, animal welfare, families, human rights, and many more.

Unfortunately not all organizations are reliable. Back home I’ve seen a big warehouse full with clothes rotting because the leaders of a charity organization were too lazy and careless to distribute it to people who really need those clothes. From that moment if I’m donating or organizing any fundraising I’m triple-checking everything: who is looking for help, who is organizing the donation, how they want me to deliver the donation. Always ask friends, look for recommendations, do some research and If it is possible make sure that you will be present when the donation is being delivered.

If we all work together, care and help one another we can make our environment, planet a much better place. Does caring and being a human being cost money? No - so think about what you can do, and get involved!"

Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons