B Corps Encourage Grassroots Support Through Online Giving and Purpose-Driven Partnerships
“The decisions companies make during this time will not be forgotten. Stakeholders will remember how brands responded—or didn’t respond—to this time. Employees may choose to work for a more socially responsible company, and customers may even pay a premium to support a company that has shown social support and help during this pandemic.”
These words, shared with us by Certified B Corporation Selfless.ly founder Josh Driver, represent the long-standing commitment of B Corps to be a force for good in their communities. By framing their businesses around multiple stakeholders—customers, workers, community, environment—B Corps make social concerns part of everyday operations, a model that becomes even more relevant and valuable during challenging times.
In that stakeholder spirit, several B Corps and partner companies are supporting #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of giving and unity created in response to greater needs created by COVID-19. The May 5 #GivingTuesdayNow event extends beyond financial donations: Participants are encouraged to take action at the grassroots level in a variety of ways, whether that’s by helping a neighbor, advocating for an issue, sharing a skill, or giving to causes.
The original Giving Tuesday falls during the start of the holiday shopping season (mark your calendars for December 1), adding an element of philanthropy and volunteerism in contrast to the gift-buying frenzy of that time. With #GivingTuesdayNow, organizers hope to build on that model and encourage more people to be a force for good through greater citizen engagement and support for community organizations and nonprofits around the world—stakeholders familiar to the B Corp community.
B The Change reached out via the B Hive—an online resource for B Corps—to hear from a few B Corps that work with nonprofits, philanthropic endeavors, and other community-minded efforts to learn more about their services and how they are helping other organizations adapt to this time of crisis and the unknown ahead.
Subscribing for Good
B Corp Harness has adapted the subscription model—think Uber, Blue Apron, and Netflix—for the nonprofit industry. Founder and CEO Miraj Patel says the Harness fundraising platform provides efficient digital giving and stewardship campaigns for charities, universities, and financial institutions, allowing organizations to create meaningful, recurring relationships with their supporters.
Harness, which certified as a B Corp in October 2019, has been able to transition quickly to remote work during COVID-19 because of its cloud-based platform.
“As lucrative fundraising events continue to be cancelled indefinitely, nonprofits must turn to digital channels to help recover lost revenue,” Patel says. “To help arm as many organizations with the tools and coaching they need to run effective digital giving campaigns, we’ve cut all setup, coaching and support fees indefinitely. Our customer success teams are helping nonprofits upgrade their online experience in minutes, as well as arming them with fundraising strategies for both COVID-19 and Giving Tuesday.”
Following historical trends, he says donors are responding during the COVID-19 crisis. Data from the Harness network shows that giving is up in nearly every category of nonprofit, with online donations up 280% in 2020 from the same four-month period in 2019.
“But it’s important for organizations to note that as in many crisis situations, we tend to see a large initial uptick in gifts which rapidly tapers off,” he says. “Organizations should be ready to respond by keeping donors informed and promoting recurring giving appeals.”
Removing Barriers to Giving
Before launching Selfless.ly, founder Josh Driver saw a need for software to help companies facilitate and track all types of giving and encourage and celebrate corporate giving to nonprofits. Although the B Corp sells its software to for-profit companies, it adapted its platform slightly to connect nonprofits in need with virtual volunteers and product/service donation needs.
“I have witnessed a growing disconnect between the for-profit and nonprofit sectors,” Driver says. “It’s not that there is a lack of interest from the business community to give back; there are certain barriers that make it challenging, like the cost and time involved. Due to these issues, benefits like workplace giving, volunteer time off, and distribution of in-kind donations are only available to larger companies with deeper pockets and a larger human capital team.”
With Selfless.ly, Driver aims to provide a solution that is affordable to companies of all sizes and streamlines philanthropy to maximize the impact.
“Philanthropy is evolving rapidly with younger generations entering the workforce who care deeply about socially conscious companies that benefit society,” he says, noting that is one reason why the Indianapolis-based company pursued B Corp certification in 2018. “Indiana has a relatively low number of B Corps, and we wanted to breathe new life into our state and inspire more companies to join us. In addition, if we are encouraging companies to ramp up their impact, we should be raising the bar ourselves.”
Selfless.ly software allows companies to offer donation matching, allocated volunteer time off for individual employees and groups, and an in-kind distribution system to assist nonprofits—work that has shifted because of the pandemic.
“We decided to provide nonprofits a free virtual volunteer management platform, consulting on transitioning volunteer opportunities into virtual ones, and hosting weekly webinars for nonprofit leadership and employees on ways to manage the organization using less resources and also how to prioritize self-care,” Driver says.
Standing by Their Purpose
Other B Corps that work frequently with nonprofits are tapping into that experience for #GivingTuesdayNow. A partnership that includes B Corp Firespring, the online resource Nonprofit Hub, and Nebraska-based nonprofit Do More Good has established a #GivingTuesdayNow matching-fund initiative. Firespring saw an opportunity to amplify donations for nonprofits that register through its foundation.
With 52 funds—one for each state plus the District of Columbia as well as a national fund—the Firespring partnership connects on the local level and allows donors to contribute through May 26.
At B Corp Inspiring Capital, Founder and CEO Nell Derick Debevoise sees #GivingTuesdayNow as an opportunity for people to give each other “the biggest gift there is”: the fulfillment of being purposeful. Inspiring Capital is a founding partner of The Purposeful Collective, which also is launching a May 5 community-building campaign, Purpose4All, aligned with #GivingTuesdayNow to recognize and appreciate the impact of others and to help them remember their purpose. Through action-oriented work in service of others, Purpose4All celebrates small daily events and helps individuals consider their own purpose and impact on the lives of others.
At Inspiring Capital, Derick Debevoise and others on her team offer training programs to help employees and leaders think about the greenness of their operations, fairness of their hiring, inclusivity of their culture, generosity in their community, and well-being and development of their colleagues.
“We’ve found that people are more hungry than ever for the tools, guidance, and inspiration we provide to help them recognize and activate purpose in their lives and workplaces,” she says. “Leaders are focused on supporting the well-being of their teams, and purpose and meaning are critical ingredients of well-being, particularly amid big uncertainty.”
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