Nonprofits and Benefit Corporations: New Resources and Opportunities

Lindsey Lassiter is a YNPN Triangle NC volunteer on the Marketing & Communications Committee. This month, she shares her thoughts on B Corps and the opportunities they present for nonprofits.

By definition, nonprofits place purpose over profits. The legal framework for nonprofits protects this structure to allow CEOs and directors to make decisions in pursuit of achieving a mission rather than a bottom line. For-benefit Corporations, or B Corps, are for-profit businesses that operate with a legal structure that allows a balanced pursuit of purpose and profits.

For example, The Redwoods Group is a Certified B Corporation in the Triangle and a terrific example of this ethos. Chief of Staff, Robin Murchison explains,“Our reason for being is to keep kids safe and help create safe communities for all. Making a profit is important because it sustains us and it provides us with the resources and leverage we need to deliver on our mission. But making a profit is not the ultimate reason for why we are in business.”

What does this mean for nonprofits? The rise of B Corporations presents a range of opportunities for the nonprofit community. First, nonprofits can use the B Corp Assessment tool to improve internal operations and practices. Second, nonprofits are consumers, too. They can practice social and environmental sustainability by hiring vendors and buying supplies from local and national B Corps. Third, nonprofits should look for opportunities to partner with local B Corporations that have a shared mission.

Achieving B Corporation certification is not an easy feat. Businesses must go through a rigorous process that requires hours of assessments and a prolonged and rigorous documentation process. Luckily, any organization, business or nonprofit can use the assessment tool as a reference.

The easiest way to use this tool is to create a free account via the B Corp Impact Assessment website, but you can also view a set of sample questions here.

Source: B Impact Assessment, Quick Impact Assessment, Governance

Next, think about how your nonprofit can act as a force for good by buying goods and services from Certified B Corporations. Are you looking for a new coffee vendor? Is your nonprofit thinking about hiring a consulting firm to assess an IT upgrade? There are B Corporation options for these needs! It can also be as simple as educating your nonprofit employees and volunteers about all the great local B Corp companies in your area to get their coffee, pet supplies, or workout gear.

And finally, B Corporations are mission-aligned and can make excellent partners for your local events or fundraising campaigns. A food security nonprofit could partner with FIG of Durham to hold community farming workshops. Be proactive by reaching out to local B corporations to start thinking through partnership opportunities. Another option is research grant opportunities offered by multinational B Corporations. Patagonia, for example, offers grants to over 700 environmental organizations a year.

The B Corp movement is picking up steam, which is great news for nonprofits, too! Take advantage of the tools, great local companies, and don’t miss out on an opportunity to partner with organizations outside of the nonprofit network.

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