ChangeSprout Inc. was incorporated as a benefit corporation under Article 17 of the New York State Business Corporation Law. Our 2013 annual benefit report is available below:
On May 21, 2013 ChangeSprout was incorporated into New York State as a benefit corporation under Article 17 of the New York State Business Corporation Law. As required by this statute, ChangeSprout must submit an annual report outlining its impact to the New York State Department of State and all shareholders. ChangeSprout must also make this report publicly available.
As a software company committed to fostering change through our relationships with progressive non-profit organizations, the benefit corporation model was one that we found appealing. Though we are in our first year and have much room for improvement, we are committed to maximizing our contribution to the public benefit in the coming years.
II. GENERAL PUBLIC BENEFIT
A. Selecting a Third Party Standard: After reviewing a number of third party standards, ChangeSprout decided to use B Lab’s “B Impact Assessment.” We chose B Labs because of their history of leadership with regard to the passage of benefit corporation legislation and their assessment’s ease of use. Additionally, we plan to use the B Labs “Best Practices” notes while formulating our goals for the next year.
B. Benefit Corporation’s Pursuit of the General Public Benefit and the Extent the General Public Benefit was Created
Article 17 of the New York State Business Corporation Law defines general public benefit as “a material positive impact on society and the environment.” In our first year of operation, ChangeSprout has worked to pursue this goal primarily through its technical support of various non-profit advocacy organizations.
ChangeSprout provides software-as-a-service support to progressive non-profit organizations worldwide. As a result of our contract with ControlShift Labs, an Australian public company that is limited by guarantee, we pledge to work only with organizations that share a progressive vision of the world and seek to make the world a fairer, more just place.
In addition to our support of the institutional goals of these organizations, our software is used to empower these organizations’ members to start and lead their own campaigns – giving those with limited experience a platform from which they can effect change in their own communities. We’re strong believers in the immense power that ordinary people have when they work together for change in their own communities and we are proud to support the work of activists around the world.
General Public Benefit
ChangeSprout’s contribution to the general public benefit is best captured by a sampling of the successful campaigns that our software has powered.
Through action.groundswell-movement.org, Auburn Seminary was able to deliver a petition signed by over 250,000 supporters calling for Village Voice Media to shut down backpage.com’s adult section and stop the trafficking of children. The campaign also garnered the support of 46 state attorneys general and over 50 non-governmental organizations that joined the movement by issuing their own letters of support.
Another of our clients, credomobilize.com, collected over 19,000 signatures petitioning the Texas State Board of Education to adopt science textbooks that included peer-approved research, instead of including creationism and climate change denial. Additionally, they collected nearly 25,000 signatures in one week in support of comprehensive immigration reform. They have also successfully worked to ban GMO crops on Hawaii and extend additional housing benefits to the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
In addition to this selection of successful campaigns, all of which targeted issues facing the United States, our international partners have seen similar success in their communities. 38 Degrees, our partner in UK, has had successful campaigns that stopped the closure of public libraries in small, local communities; prevented the UK government from burying nuclear waste in a national park located in the lakes region–by collecting over 50,000 signatures in a matter of weeks; and saved the National Media Museum in Bradford–with the support of 40,000 signatories.
In Australia, GetUp!, one of our founding partners, has worked to stop the deportation of same-sex partners–by delivering a petition with over 143,000 signatures to the Immigration Minister–blocked the development of coastal land, and saved a local public school from closure. Additionally, our platform led to a movement of 95,000 people and 16 diverse groups working together to stop the so-called Super Trawler and protect local fisheries.
In addition to our work with multi-issue organizations, ChangeSprout’s clients also include organizations whose sole focus is the protection of the environment.
Campaigns.gofossilfree.org, which is powered by ChangeSprout, is pressing for educational institutions, governments, and organizations to divest from fossil fuels. Since beginning their campaign in 2013, nine colleges, 20 religious institutions, and 22 cities have committed to fossil fuel divestment. Furthermore, campaigns to go fossil fuel free have been started at 537 different institutions worldwide.
Another of our clients, Greenpeace India, has launched a number of successful campaigns, including saving 274 acres of forest reserves from being converted into an ecotourism site and collecting over 2,000 signatures to stop a parking lot from being constructed in the middle of a botanical garden. Additionally, Greenpeace India was able to successfully block an alloy and power company from dumping its industrial waste in a residential community.
C. The Pursuit of the Specific Public Benefit Named in the Certificate of Incorporation
At the time of ChangeSprout’s incorporation, the company chose to pursue a general public benefit rather than limiting itself to a specific benefit.
D. Circumstances Hindering the Creation of the Public Benefit
While ChangeSprout is proud of its contributions, as a very new organization, we look forward to the opportunity to grow and increase our contribution to the public benefit. We’re also constrained by our small size, which requires us to focus on our core work as an organization rather than adopting additional socially conscious business practices.
III. PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT
The results of ChangeSprout’s B Lab assessment are as follows:
|Category||Total Points Earned||Percent Earned|
IV. PLANS FOR IMPROVEMENT
In the upcoming year, ChangeSprout plans to make a number of improvements in an effort to increase its contribution to the public benefit and raise the results of its second performance assessment. In the area governance, ChangeSprout will finalize its written mission statement to include an explicit commitment to positive social impact.
Within the category of our workers, ChangeSprout will draft an employee handbook and code of ethics that will be made available to all existing and new employees.
With regard to the local community, ChangeSprout is looking to add additional positions, which will likely be based in Brooklyn. Additionally, will explore the possibility of paid community service leave.
To benefit the environment, we will take LEED certification and conservation methods into account during our search for increased office space. Additionally we will consider carbon offsets to reduce the impact of our employees’ travel and our data center’s power usage.
V. COMPENSATION OF DIRECTORS
Nathan Woodhull is the sole director of ChangeSprout. He is not given any compensation in his role as director of ChangeSprout, but is paid as an employee of the organization.
Nathan Woodhull, founder, is the only shareholder.