Brad Slaker, founder of DesignWise, didn’t set out to create a non-profit, he told a crowd at Business4Better. It just turned out to be the best business model. A “volunteer-based business model” meant they could design products for a fraction of the usual cost, so it became feasible to focus on what is usually an under-funded field – pediatrics. “I worked in the medical device industry for 20 years; I never even heard of a pediatric project being initiated,” he reported. Now he works on them all the time.
Of course, a volunteer-based business would just be about free labor if the only goal were capital. But Slaker’s real goal is to create products to help kids that otherwise would suffer. He just wants the effort to be self-sustaining.
He thinks about DesignWise as a business. It’s just a business that is valued on more than financial growth. Continue reading
E-Rewards and Give Something Back Office Supplies (GSB)are shining examples of competitive businesses that are doing business with purpose to change lives. At the 2013 Business4Better Conference, Kurt Knapton, CEO of E-Rewards, and Mike Hannigan, President of Give Something Back Office Supplies, shared their personal journey to create successful businesses that have a larger social purpose.
Mike Hannigan (GSB), Kurt Knapton (e-Rewards), Sophie Faris (B Lab)
“I am capitalist first”, spouts Knapton. “While do social good is important, you need to have the business experience to compete at a very high level”. Knapton leads E-Rewards, a fast-growing B2B research company that organizes survey panels made of up 6.5 million consumers in more than 40 countries. Knapton was inspired by doing something bigger and better. He refers to Peter Drucker, father of modern management, who states that the business bottom line is measured both by business value and changing lives. E-Rewards is a for profit company who now is offering its consumers options in the form of both extrinsic rewards/gifts and intrinsic rewards. The intrinsic rewards are fulfilled through Kiva where survey takers can transfer their reward to microfinance loans. The result is $250,000 in loans impacting 11,000 people in just a few short months. Continue reading
When Sonic Drive In wanted to give back to the community, it didn’t rush into things. The company, which has 3,500 drive-in restaurants across the country, wanted to make sure any initiative had the support of its franchise partners. And it wanted to focus on education, unlike the health focus of one of its top competitors, McDonald’s.
Sonic ultimately decided it wanted to support teachers at the local level. To do that, it teamed with DonorsChoose.org, a Web-based nonprofit that enables teachers to submit requests for classroom supplies. Five years later, the partnership is still going strong.
“We took the right amount of time to research on the front end” to make sure it would be the right program with the right partner, Christi Woodworth, Sonic’s director of social media, said during a session on corporate-nonprofit partnerships at the Business4Better conference.
A partnership between corporate benevolence and nonprofit action, The HOPE Program, based in Brooklyn NY, has one of the best records in the industry for transforming unemployed and under-skilled individuals with difficult socioeconomic histories into successful long-term employees.
Nonprofit leaders are increasingly realizing the latent power of corporate partnerships. Bill Shore founded and built one of the nation’s largest anti-hunger organizations. Share Our Strength (SOS), by rejecting what he calls the system of “setting for that tiny margin of the financial universe that consists of leftover wealth.“