Philanthropy – An important part of fitness business success

2018-11-13T22:02:24+00:00February 25th, 2015|Business, Culture, Gym owner|0 Comments

Tom Callos

Once in a while you come across someone who speaks so clearly, directly and efficiently about his or her craft that you can’t help but to sit and listen. Tom Callos is one of those great speakers and we had the chance to catch up with him about the importance of philanthropy in business models.

Tom teaches martial arts school owners and their staff members how to improve what they do each and every day. He is also the co-founder of the Alabama Martial Arts Build-Vention which is celebrating its 11th year on April 8 -11 in Greensboro, Ala. For the last decade Tom has been using Greensboro as a training ground for martial arts teachers. He has teachers participate in construction projects as a part of a program he calls, “the ultimate black belt test,” which has resulted in more than $250,000 in cash donations from the martial arts community, completion of more than 20 building projects and facilitated 40,000 man-hours of volunteer labor.

This year the event will bring in more than 100 martial arts teachers and black belts from across the U.S. to build a new bakery for the town of Greensboro. Greensboro hasn’t had a fresh bread bakery since the 1930’s.

We talked with Tom about why philanthropy is vital for business success and here is what he has to say.

Q. Why do you think philanthropy is vital for business?

Tom: Every business has the ability to use the Internet and social media to keep people in close connection and empower each other. Businesses can produce their own videos, e-Newsletters, newspapers, blogs and more. All of this facilitates community engagement, which is the new marketing if you want to promote your business.

Tom: Every business has the ability to use the Internet and social media to keep people in close connection and empower each other. Businesses can produce their own videos, e-Newsletters, newspapers, blogs and more. All of this facilitates community engagement, which is the new marketing if you want to promote your business.

But saying something is completing different than doing something. We all know the old saying “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Well action is worth a thousand pictures and that’s the best way to make a connection in the community. It’s important to include philanthropy into your business model. When your business takes time to help the communities they serve, that shows sincerity and engages people in an entirely different way. Further, action helps mobilize people to help others in need. Philanthropy can be as simple as a paint project, building a community garden or helping with a small fix-it project for a local shelter. You can look at doing any sort of charitable act that connects the business owner with local community. It shows a level of authenticity that advertising alone cannot attain.

I believe every business should adopt a tithe concept and give 10% of their earnings to their local communities. I have a friend who owns a restaurant and every month feeds the homeless. He is clearly committed to giving back. My believe is that every martial arts school should donate a Saturday morning where they give their lessons to anyone who comes.

Q. How have you seen philanthropy help businesses?

Tom: When a business decides to do something and engages employees, it just oozes with good karma. An analogy I always use is how the Amish come together for a barn-raising event. The entire community comes together and everyone gets to play a part. Everybody gets to enjoy the fact that they are contributing, even if it’s only a small part of their day. It is good for everybody’s soul.

Tom: When a business decides to do something and engages employees, it just oozes with good karma. An analogy I always use is how the Amish come together for a barn-raising event. The entire community comes together and everyone gets to play a part. Everybody gets to enjoy the fact that they are contributing, even if it’s only a small part of their day. It is good for everybody’s soul.

I also think giving back can augment traditional marketing. Promotions, billboards, flyers, etc. are found almost everywhere. I think it makes much more of an impression when companies get involved within the local community. This has a far better reaching affect and positive impact on your business than just buying an ad in my opinion.

Q. Can you give me some examples on how you think philanthropy has been most effective for business?

Tom: There is a huge benefit to interrupting a pattern of normal behavior and interjecting new people into your circle of business and friends. In the case of the Alabama Project, you are outside of our office, picking up a hammer, nails and playing a contributive role that creates a hub for creative and innovative people. When you work together on a community project it really resets your bar. You realize how similar you are to all these people that are working on this project. You see things getting done. And, in some cases, they are getting done the way you may not

Tom: There is a huge benefit to interrupting a pattern of normal behavior and interjecting new people into your circle of business and friends. In the case of the Alabama Project, you are outside of our office, picking up a hammer, nails and playing a contributive role that creates a hub for creative and innovative people. When you work together on a community project it really resets your bar. You realize how similar you are to all these people that are working on this project. You see things getting done. And, in some cases, they are getting done the way you may not had thought of yourself. With this insight you go back to work and look at your community with a different lens.

Zen Planner is dedicated to helping its employees give back to their communities, and we are extremely excited and honored to have members of our team volunteer at this year’s Alabama Martial Arts Build-Vention. We cannot wait to see the dedication and collaboration from this amazing group of martial arts professionals from around the country in person.

To learn more about Tom and the Alabama Project, read our blog.


Check out our latest eBook, Fitness Business Management Time Traps to Avoid. This guide will help you identify which tasks are taking up too much of your time, how to avoid these traps in the future and, most importantly, how creating efficiencies can help you better build relationships with your members.

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