Marc Zboch is a leader among American philanthropists. Coming from a business background, Zboch has been devoting an increasing amount of time to charities in Haiti, Cambodia, North Korea, Philippines, Egypt, El Salvador and beyond. His dedication to charitable works is driven by his faith.
Zboch first became interested in charity work while he was hard at work in the business world. He built businesses that could help support non-profit organizations.
One of Marc Zboch’s newest charitable initiatives is the scholarship he has endowed. The Marc Zboch Scholarship is a $1,000 award intended for students with a deep personal interest in doing good for the world. Encouraging young people to take an active role in the global community is Zboch’s goal in endowing the scholarship.
Zboch has been an important player in the charitable sphere for several years. With his help, many deserving charities around the world have received the funding and personnel they need to spread their mission. Zboch’s faith has been a key factor in driving his charitable works. He hopes to inspire others to pursue causes they are passionate about.
How did you get started in this business?
I first became involved in charitable work when it became clear to me that making money was not the true goal of my life. I was a successful businessman, but I decided that spending time on charitable pursuits was worth the effort. I hope to help other business owners, and especially young people, find charitable projects that get them excited and bring them joy.
There are many needy people around the world, and some have been affected by natural disasters, war, and other events that are totally out of their control. My goal is to spend time in these communities and help them to help themselves.
How do you make money?
I don’t make money in my charitable activities. I have been able to partner with businesses I’m involved with and customers who get enthused about special projects. We’ve been able to help fund a leprosy clinic in Cambodia; a school in Ghana, a hospital in Haiti; an orphanage in North Korea and hundreds of thousands of fruit trees for small farmers in deforested countries around the world.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
Again, profit and loss are not a part of my calculations. It did take some time before I was able to secure enough funding for certain projects. I contributed as much of my own money as I could, but there are always needs above and beyond what I am able to cover myself. I needed a special fundraising team to help me achieve my goals so that I could help people around the world.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
When you are first starting charitable work, it is understandable that you may feel overwhelmed by the world’s problems. There is so much need in the world, and you can’t reach everyone. The important thing is to target your activities to the area of most critical need. This is why I work in Haiti. People who lost their homes in the earthquake ten years ago are still homeless today.
Sometimes the cost of big projects can be intimidating. There is no way they can be accomplished without God stepping in. He has always come through and somehow got projects completed that we never could have done on ourselves.
How did you get your first customer?
One of my first projects was helping an organization distribute Christmas gifts to under-privileged children in the United States. I quickly realized that what seemed like a great cause actually hurt the families we were trying to help. You could tell the fathers felt awkward and embarrassed that they were receiving help from strangers. The charity switched to a model where gifts were sold for a discounted price that the parents could easily afford. The parents could then experience the pride of providing for their families rather than the feelings of inadequacy. This lesson has stuck with me. Other than disaster relief, you never want people to feel like they are getting something for free. We support a medical clinic in Haiti that charges pennies for medical treatment and medications. This nominal charge changed an attitude of entitlement to one of respect and appreciation.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
I don’t have direct customers, but I do like to work with businesses to encourage their customers to donate directly to worthwhile charities. If people make the first donation then they will usually continue their support. I have structured promotions where the customer prints or copies the donation receipt and gives it to the business. The business then gives the donor a free product. This makes accounting simple for the business and the donor gets to write off the donation.
Christ Reaching Asia Missions (CRAM) has a Cambodia leprosy village were the residents are amazingly independent and wanted to plant fruit trees. So I worked with Fast GrowingTrees.com to email their customers and offer a free fruit tree to anyone who went on CRAM’s website to make a donation for the project. FastGrowingTrees.com had the expense of sending free trees to donors, but many of them bought additional products and continued to be loyal customers.
Tom’s Shoes has become a $400 million business by donating one pair of shoes for each one it sells in impoverished countries.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
I have had to postpone all of my international travel as a result of the pandemic. This is heartbreaking to me. Many countries have sent non-native missionaries home to avoid spreading the disease.
During this difficult time, I have been able to focus my charitable work on domestic projects. There is just as much need in America as there is abroad, but in this country, we tend to judge those who are in need of the most help. I think this is tragic.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I try to find projects where God is working. In America we have many safety nets that we can rely on. In poor countries, God is their only safety net. They have a much stronger faith than we do and get to see miracles that most American Christians will never experience.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
The first time I was able to help a community complete a church building, I was ecstatic. I felt the community’s pride in their new church and I felt the gratitude of the locals.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
I hope that we are able to resume international operations soon. Until then, we will keep serving the local people here in the United States.
I am excited by the growing missionary population. People who have not been involved in faith-based activities are beginning to become excited by our work in other countries.
What business books have inspired you?
The best business book I have ever read, and that I recommend to everyone I know, is Good to Great by Jim Collins. The book gives an excellent blueprint for running a successful business.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
You seldom regret the things you have done. Our regrets come from what you didn’t do or didn’t do to your full abilities.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
No, not at this time. However, I am always happy to point people towards worthwhile missions.