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You might not realize it, but your business know-how and drive is valuable to people outside your company, too. Whether you’re volunteering in a soup kitchen or mentoring students, there are plenty of ways to pay it forward.

And this is the perfect time of year to do exactly that (or make a New Year’s resolution to start in 2015). With that in mind, we asked a panel of entrepreneurs from YEC the following question:

Q. Name one way you have given back as an entrepreneur and why you recommend it to others.

1. Don’t just write a check, volunteer

Rob FultonWhen I was younger and poor, I would volunteer my time because I didn’t have a checkbook to pull from—but now that I’m more successful, I still try to remain time-oriented with my volunteering. Spending an afternoon at a soup kitchen is 10 times more effective than cutting a check, in my opinion (and bonus—you can write a check AS WELL if you feel so inclined). —Rob FultonArcadeLab

2. Seek out educational charities

syed BalkhiSince I grew up in Pakistan, I know how important education is in shaping your life. Over the past two years, we have built three schools in Guatemala through a charity called Pencils of Promise. I have had the pleasure of visiting the communities and meeting the kids. It’s the best feeling ever. —Syed BalkhiOptinMonster

3. Teach at your local university

john ramptonI have been teaching entrepreneurship at a local university in San Francisco for some time. It allows me to teach others what it takes and help them build relationships, too. Give back and it will give back forever. —John RamptonHost

4. Write and share your ideas

Andrew ThomasSpeaking and writing about startups, technology, and our industry has become a very enjoyable way to give back to the entrepreneurial community. Take every opportunity to share your ideas, passions, and beliefs wherever possible. You never know who you can inspire or educate … and that’s pretty cool. —Andrew ThomasSkyBell Technologies, Inc.

5. Meet with younger entrepreneurs

Darrah BrusteinI like to go to conferences or back to my university to meet with entrepreneurs who are just getting started and give them advice or encouragement. It’s really great to see the enthusiasm of those who are on the precipice of their first business as well as to stop and recognize how much you’ve learned and are able to give back. —Darrah BrusteinNetwork Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids 

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6. Open source your code

Phil ChenAs an entrepreneur in the technology space, often while building products and services I create bits of code that can be useful to others. Open-sourcing this code is a great way for me to give back to the community as well as get iterative feedback. I personally like using Github as my method of giving back. —Phil ChenSystems Watch

7. Establish an annual giving program

Dan PriceWe have a giving program where we give 10 percent of our annual profits back to charity. But, we divvy that 10 percent up by the number of employees we have and give them their share of the profits to donate to the charity of their choice. We have a lot of fun with the program and it’s something everyone really enjoys. It’s just a small part of what makes coming to work have a larger meaning and purpose. —Dan PriceGravity Payments

8. Consider giving away your product

Sean MarszalekOur company is dedicated to helping many charities, but over the years we have closely partnered with Operation Troop Appreciation. One of the luxuries of being an entrepreneur is the chance to give back. There’s no better feeling than seeing boxes of our products ready to ship to our deployed troops. —Sean MarszalekSDC Nutrition, Inc.

9. Promote a cause related to your business

Amanda BarbaraAs an entrepreneur, it’s important get behind a good cause, and it’s even better if it relates to your business. At my company, we are a platform centered around authors and publishing. We focus on giving back to literacy efforts worldwide and offer the same opportunity to our community. —Amanda L. BarbaraPubslush

10. Create an annual scholarship

Stanley MeytinGiving back to students who are studying and entering your industry can be an excellent way to not only help talented individuals in your field, but also a great way to establish good relationships with those who may be of help to you in the future. A win/win situation! —Stanley MeytinTrue Film Production

11. Use your business for social good

Sean KellyMy company has a nonprofit charity arm that donates healthy vending machines to schools in underserved communities and teaches students how to run the business as social entrepreneurs. We’re also a Certified B Corporation. Giving back to the community is not just the right thing to do, it also makes smart business sense since consumers prefer to purchase from cause-focused companies. —Sean KellyHUMAN

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12. Speak on panels

Jason GrillVolunteering your time by speaking on a panel in front of young entrepreneurs, students, or others who want to start their own business is a great way to give back to the community. It can also help you to learn more and more about things you might miss in your business and open the door to individuals who want to help your business grow. —Jason GrillJGrill Media

13. Use new technology platforms to make donations

Leah NeaderthalAs a startup founder, I prefer to use other startups whenever possible, and that includes in charitable giving. My favorite is Benevolent, which is crowdfunding for individuals who are struggling to meet specific needs in their lives (i.e., buying furniture after being homeless, a laptop for college, etc.). I get to make a difference while also supporting a growing company. —Leah Neaderthal, Smarts Get Paid

14. Offer whatever you’re good at

Andy KaruzaMy company is good at marketing, so naturally we offer that service to charity events that are trying to get the word out. It feels good to give back, but you also get to meet a lot of other cool people in the process. Get your business involved in sponsoring charity events, because there are lots of other high-caliber and interesting people that you can meet there, too. —Andy Karuza, FenSens

15. Focus on local

Zach RobbinsYou don’t need to do something international to make a difference. Getting involved in the issues impacting your own city can help. For example, I gave back by literally giving my back and planking 17 reams of paper as part of our #StackThatPaper campaign to help raise money and copy paper for Philadelphia’s public neighborhood schools. —Zach RobbinsLeadnomics

16. Mentor other entrepreneurs

John BerkowtizIn addition to volunteering with nonprofits, I also give back by advising and encouraging other young entrepreneurs. I’ve found it to be really rewarding to help someone that has a real shot at making a difference in the world. Not only will you feel good and have done some good, but you also will find yourself having a lot of fun working in a different business and industry other than your own. —John BerkowitzYodle

RELATED: Your Startup Needs a Social Responsibility Plan to Compete—Here’s Why





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