The Social Business Movement: What Are Benefit Organizations?

people prosperity planet

There is a new, emerging trend that is on the rise and coming to your town soon. It is known as the “Social Business Movement,” where essentially new ways of doing business are leading to balancing the needs of people and the planet while also developing prosperity for all (rather than a few). This triple-bottom line approach looks at the whole system to ensure that businesses are working creating products and services that align with the needs of people (health, well-being, financial stability and security) while managing the resources of the planet. These benefit organizations (non-profit and for profit) are now being recognized by several states through legislation. Currently, 20 states have enacted legislation to acknowledge benefit organizations. An additional 18 are working on laws to join the movement.

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Organizations that become recognized as a benefit organization must provide a public annual report that shows how they are working to address the social, environmental and economic challenges. The report uses a 3rd party standard (such as B-Lab, GRI, JUST, etc.) to capture measures and metrics to show how data is collected and analyzed in relation to explaining how an benefit organization has performed.

Transparency helps consumers, and now social investors, to make informed decisions around what businesses they wish to support.  In addition, benefit organizations also find that they have more control over protecting the social and environmental values versus just focusing on the profit as the only driver.  For example, if creating jobs in rural or economically depressed areas is a priority of an organization, legislation now can protect business initiatives to keep jobs local instead of having them moved to another location during a corporate buy out.

“The Social Business Movement is exciting because it really opens up people to discovering ways that they can support the things they value,” states Kate Wildrick, Co-Founder of Ingenuity Innovation Center. “We firmly believe that benefit organizations are essential to creating healthy and sustainable futures for us all. Here at Ingenuity, we are doing all we can to help support and nurture this emerging trend.”

Ingenuity Innovation Center will be focusing on providing start-up resources, consultation and support to benefit organizations.  Ingenuity Innovation Center will be first of a handful of businesses to register as a benefit organization in the State of Oregon.  Legislation will go into effect on January 1st, 2014.  For more information on this event, please click here.