I’m sure you’ve heard it hundreds of times: “San Antonio is the biggest small town in the country.” You can have anonymity in a big city, but it’s pretty difficult to go places in a small town where you don’t know somebody. We have the best of all worlds – the conveniences of a big city and the charm of a small town.

What is unique about living in a small town? It’s knowing your neighbors, communing and working with them to make the community a better place to live. In so doing, you’re expanding your community reach and broadening your relationship base. In a small town, it’s more difficult to be a recluse than it is in a big city, odd as that may sound. Many have heard me say, “San Antonio has only 765 people living here, and I know every one of them!”
Life will be pretty mundane if it doesn’t extend beyond yourself, your work and your family. We live in a very needy world that can improve only with the help of others. I know what several of you may be saying: “There are not enough hours in the day for me to take on any other responsibilities.” I would suggest that you think outside of your self-imposed box. Be bold and challenge yourself a bit.
I write a Power of Connections monthly and am in my third year. December will be my third Power of Giving, so I went back and reread my 2013-2014 December blogs to help me with this article. My business, Elliott Connection, was established because of the wide range of people I know. And how do I know so many people? I know them through my extensive community involvement. I consider giving time, effort and money to worthy causes as part of living and doing business in the community – especially in our “small town” of San Antonio. And it will pay off in spades in the end.
There are an infinite number of nonprofit organizations here. They all must rely on volunteers to help them accomplish their missions of serving the community. When valuable skills are donated, their financial bottom line remains focused on the core purpose while they gain tools and insights to help them grow. You must first analyze yourself and determine what you want to do.

• What are your capabilities?
• Are you a strong leader or a good team member?
• Do you have a knack for numbers?
• Are you well organized?
• What is your profession, and how can you complement
that through your volunteer efforts?
• What is a key interest, hobby or passion?
• How can you contribute your knowledge and abilities to
help an organization?

There are multiple organizations serving numerous causes that can make your head swim – the arts, children, education, health care, the homeless – the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, altruism no longer exists in its purest form. You really have to run a WIIFM (what’s in it for me) test. In other words, how can the organization AND you mutually benefit? Here are some suggestions:

• Research the organizations that serve a cause for which
you have a passion.
• Go to each website and learn as much as you can about each one.
• Study the leadership on both the board and the staff.
• Determine through your review of each organization
what you believe you could bring to the table.
• When you’ve narrowed down your search, ask others
for their opinions.
• Identify a strategic way, either directly or indirectly,
to propose yourself or be recommended.
• **Perform your committed obligation as if it were
part of your job.

Why the ** on the final bullet? People observe what you are doing, and if you’re doing it well, they assume that is your work ethic. They will likely be open to using your services because you have proven your ability. If you don’t fulfill your commitment, people may assume that is the way you do business, and chances are they won’t be using your services.
I want to brag on four women who are extremely successful in business and recognize that it’s not just because they work very hard.  All of them are very active in the community and have always been.  In fact, I know them primarily through our community involvement.  They have joined together, and each one picks her favorite not-for-profit for which to raise funds.  They invite their female and male friends and business associates to an event for the featured cause.  The attendees are the “who’s who” of women achievers in San Antonio!  The power of these four women together and the impact they have cannot be matched.  And who are these amazing women?

Cathy Amato, owner of Subway, Embers Wood Fired Grill & Bar,
and Mooyah restaurants

Deborah Bauer, founder of Drake Commercial Group

Trudy Madan, CEO of Synergyst Research, Discovery Clinical
Trials and AllergySA

Christy Prescott, owner of Corporate Travel Planners

There is no better time than the present to make the commitment to get involved in our community, showcase your abilities by giving it your all, be confident that you are helping an organization that so desperately needs you and reap the many benefits that will come to you in multiple ways.