BY NICK GROSS
Philanthropic work is dynamic; it radiates good in many directions and benefits everyone involved in a holistic way. For example, kids who have been mentored are 130 percent more likely to hold leadership positions later in life.
This is why, long before starting a music production company and creative agency, I knew I wanted to incorporate philanthropy into everything I did.
Whether it was building bikes for foster kids or hosting a group of young, aspiring producers at our recording studios, creating a strong base to support these types of endeavors has always been part of my company’s DNA.
Philanthropy’s positive impact on business
We started the Find Your Grind Foundation in 2015 to help young people find their purpose and turn their passions into realities. Since then, it has expanded in scope to become a catalyst, connecting inspired individuals and helping them create bigger opportunities.
With a goal of teaching young people how to network, learn from each other’s experiences, and define success for themselves, we ask, “How do you find your grind each day, and how can you share that with others?”
Helping others helps our business, too, allowing us to connect with new people, celebrities and leaders in the community. By participating in big events through giving, we’ve been able to brand ourselves alongside influential leaders in the space.
Every year, FYG awards a partnership to two charities that demonstrate a commitment to using the arts to enrich the lives of young people. These charities bring students to our headquarters to engage in lessons, hear from industry experts, and spend time in the studio creating their own music. It’s a truly enriching and rewarding experience for everyone, including our employees and producers.
Finding your own grind
Contributing to the philanthropic community helps others learn about your brand and the businesses you’re involved in. If you’re looking to follow our lead and get involved, here are some simple steps to get started:
1. Create an event that pertains to your specific “brand” of giving. Start out by taking small steps on your own that could have an impact. Forget the profits or financial benefits of giving back; it should always be about the effect you can have on your community through creative ideas.
For FYG, we started a series called “The Undefeated Sessions” to bring foster kids from around the area into the recording studio. Afterwards, we ask kids about what makes them feel undefeated in life. Not only do they receive songwriting mentorship, a full day of recording, sponsored gear, and a music video for their song, but they also gain insider knowledge and a more positive outlook.
2. Seek ways to have an effect outside of your business. Internal social activism is amazing, but you can achieve great things through partnerships outside your business, too. At FYG, we partner with specific organizations with values and messaging similar to ours to create positive change.
Partnering with the Compton Unified School District, we created mini music academies in lower-income areas of Compton. Later, we partnered with another organization on an afterschool program to exhibit kids’ art next to Los Angeles’s biggest artists.
We also partnered with Musicians on Call to get our artists into children’s hospitals in every city on their tours to play bedside concerts for sick kids. Linking up with organizations that share similar goals can really help in the early stages.
3. Find people who embody what your foundation represents. The people in your organization who have exceeded their goals are the best ones to learn from. Depending on the size of your business, it could be a great idea to create internal or external experiences to help others learn how they set out to conquer the world.
To that end, we create networking events and conversations where these “big achievers” effectively lay out step-by-step actions individuals can take to pursue their dreams.
4. Start a 501(c)(3). When you’re ready to make things official, it’s a great feeling to start your 501(c)(3). This paperwork formally sets up your philanthropic organization, and it can be somewhat complicated. First, you must set up bylaws, apply for a federal tax ID number, and file Articles of Incorporation.
Once the corporation is set up, file IRS Form 1023 to apply for federal tax-exempt status. Most states also require a charitable solicitations registration, as well as state corporate and sales tax exemptions. More detailed information on the step-by-step process can be found at 501c3.org.
What comes around goes around
Everyone at Milky Agency and STRZ Enterprises shares a passion for music and artistic expression. Because we love passing that enthusiasm on to the next generation, we created FYG.
Think about your own passions: How can you integrate them into activism to help those in the community around you find their grind — and boost your business at the same time?