B Corporations Help Nonprofits Align Spending with Mission

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Note: this post originally appeared on GuideStar's Trust Blog on January 18th, 2011.

Nonprofits in the U.S. spent $1.3 trillion in 2007, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics.  That money was spent delivering needed services, providing salaries and benefits to employees, and paying for tools and professional services.  

Nonprofits now have a way to align their spending with their missions: B Corporations for Nonprofits.

B Corporations are a new kind of company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.  Certified by a nonprofit called B Lab, B Corporations must achieve a passing score in a comprehensive survey that evaluates social and environmental responsibility.  There are over 365 B Corporations in 30 industries, and several of them are specifically dedicated to serving the needs of nonprofit organizations.

A group of B Corporations has joined together to raise awareness among nonprofits of the services that B Corporations can offer and the benefits of working with suppliers that, while structured as for-profit businesses, are dedicated to social and environmental responsibility.  

At a press conference at Busboys and Poets (also a B Corporation) in Washington, DC on Tuesday, January 18, representatives from Care2, PhilanTech, PICnet and Better World Telecom announced the formation of B Corps for Nonprofits and the launch of the www.bcorpsfornonprofits.com website.

B Corporations for Nonprofits are Certified B Corporations that earn more than 50 percent of their revenue from nonprofit clients, and/or that have a client base that is at least nonprofit organizations.

In addition to Care2, PhilanTech, PICnet, and Better World Telecom, B Corps for Nonprofits includes Mal Warwick | Donordigital, Free Range Studios, Green Retirement Plans, The Soap Group and Social K.

There are three things that make B Corporations that serve the nonprofit sector different:

  1. B Corps are not like other companies. They are social entrepreneurs with "do-gooder missions" similar to – and complementary with – the vital missions of nonprofit organizations.
  2. B Corps for Nonprofits proudly focus on serving nonprofits as their primary clients. Nonprofits are not a "sideshow" to these organizations – they are the "Main Event!"
  3. B Corps have committed to "walk the walk," not just "talk the talk," of social responsibility. They do this by meeting or exceeding a set of specific, measurable B Corporation standards, including workplace diversity, carbon neutrality, recycling and waste reduction, donating a portion of profits to good causes, etc.

Nonprofits frequently want to know that their vendors are “good” companies.  B Corporations are values-driven companies.  They are dedicated to pursuing social and environmental bottom lines while also being sustainable businesses. They have been independently vetted and verified by a third party as beneficial companies.  As such, nonprofits can feel confident that the money they spend with B Corporations has positive social and environmental impacts.

Next time you’re looking for a new website, social action network, grant management system, phone network, benefits plan, or a number of other services, remember that the company you choose can be one that is aligned with your organization’s mission and values.

Author: Dahna Goldstein
January 18, 2011, 05:26 PM

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