ChangeSprout Inc., a benefit corporation based in New York, provides digital advocacy tools to progressive organizations around the world.
As an organization that works with progressive advocacy organizations, 2016 was an interesting year. Some of our organizations achieved important and hard-fought victories, and all of them fought to bolster progressive ideals amidst changing political climates. Through the uncertainty of the last year, we’ve remained committed to expanding the tools available to progressive organizations and fostering fledgling progressive movements in new areas around the world.
This annual report provides a place for us to look back on the last year, assess our impact, and generate a roadmap for the coming year.
GENERAL PUBLIC BENEFIT
Selecting a Third-Party Standard:
For our 2016 report, we continued to use B Lab’s B Impact Assessment. B Labs is a leader within the benefit corporation community and their assessment is one of the most highly regarded third-party standards. By using the same assessment as we’ve used in previous years, we’re able to easily monitor our impact overtime.
Additionally, the B Impact Assessment provides tips for improving our impact, which helps us to create a roadmap for the coming year.
Pursuit of the General Public Benefit and the Extent the General Public Benefit was Created:
At the time of its incorporation, ChangeSprout Inc. decided to pursue a general public benefit, which is defined as a “material positive impact on society and the environment.” As a software company, we pursue this public benefit through our support of the ControlShift toolset and other progressive advocacy tools. The toolset, which is used by progressive organizations around the world, allows organizations and their members to work for positive change in their communities.
General Public Benefit
ChangeSprout’s tools are rooted in the idea that regular people should drive social movements, both online and off. Our main product, the ControlShift toolset, allows our partners – progressive advocacy organizations around the world – to empower their members to work for positive change in their local communities.
As an organization, we believe that this organizing principle – the idea of empowering members and letting them lead – is a public benefit on its own. In our work, we’re constantly reminded of Margaret Mead’s famous quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Through our toolset, we work to empower thoughtful, committed citizens around the world; ensuring that they recognize their inherent power and agency as they work to change the world.
Our partner organizations and their members work on a diverse range of local, national, and international issues. Here are a selection of member-led campaigns that we’ve helped to power in the last year:
Camilla and 3,000 Skiftet members pressured the Swedish transportation authority to allow single parents the same access to child discounts as married parents.
In New Zealand, when other forms of emergency housing are not available, the government will place homeless families in motel rooms. However, the government requires that these homeless families repay the price of the room. An ActionStation member, Kyle, and over 10,000 of his fellow New Zealanders pressured the government to forgive these debts, lifting a great burden placed on already-homeless families.
In the United Kingdom, Carolyne and over 100,000 *38 Degrees *supporters worked to block legislation that would allow local councils to stop providing services to vulnerable children, including those with special needs and disabilities, foster children, and young people transitioning out of care.
Here in New York, Auburn Seminary worked with the New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to reunite a mother with her two children, aged 9 and 14.
The campaigns created on our toolset deal with a diverse range of issues, including the environment. We also work with organizations that are specifically dedicated to environmental protection, like 350.org. Through 350.org, we support the Go Fossil Free campaign, which is working to divest colleges, universities, cities, and churches from the fossil fuels.
The results of ChangeSprout’s 2016 assessment, as compared to the previous two years, are below.
|Category||Total Points Earned||Percent Earned||Total Points Earned||Percent Earned||Total Points Earned||Percent Earned|
DISCUSSION AND PLANS FOR IMPROVEMENTS
In the last year, our total score for governance, and the percentage of points earned, increased slightly. The majority of points in this section are predicated on the assumption that the organization has a board of directors. However, we continue to be owned and led by a single individual – our Executive Director, Nathan Woodhull. This was an issue we encountered in last year’s assessment too, and we remain unlikely to change our corporate structure. Outside of corporate structure, the main opportunities for improvement in this area are:
Establishing and promoting a forum for feedback, questions, and complaints, where all feedback is publicly available.
Soliciting additional feedback from stakeholders regarding our social and environmental performance
Our total points earned for workers increased in the last year, but our percentage of points earned decreased modestly. However, the workers category remains our best performance area. While opportunities for improvement in this section also include changes to corporate structure, the changes we can implement in the next year are:
Anonymous surveys tracking employee satisfaction and engagement.
Establishing a formal plan for employee bonuses.
Promoting employee training opportunities, both for personal and professional development.
Both our total points and percentage earned in the community category decreased since last year. As a distributed team with employees that primarily work from home, our community is spread across multiple states and countries. Nevertheless, areas for improvement in this category include:
Working to include more independent, female, or minority owned businesses in our suppliers.
Increasing our charitable giving percentage.
Encouraging employees’ volunteer activities through incentives and paid time off.
Our total points and percentage earned in the customer category increased in the last year. This section of the assessment deals primarily with the business’s impact on underserved and at-risk communities. While we don’t serve at-risk communities directly, our software supports the work of organizations that do. Increasing the points earned in this section would require a partial overhaul of our business model – moving us from a vendor to an organization serving at-risk communities directly – so we’re unlikely to make any high-point-value changes in the coming year.
Our percentage of points earned in the environment category increased in the last year. Many of the questions in this section deal with the organization’s efficiency and conservation efforts at its headquarters and office space. As a remote team, we don’t have corporate office space. However areas for improvement in this section include:
Written policies encouraging environmental conservation in home offices.
Increased education around environmental best practices.
There continues to be room for improvement in each of the assessment’s categories. While many of the questions in the assessment don’t reflect our status as a remote, distributed, and virtual team, the assessment nevertheless details various best practices that we can implement in the coming year. We remain committed to the ideals of the public benefit corporation and look forward to increasing our public benefit in the next year.
COMPENSATION OF DIRECTORS
Nathan Woodhull is ChangeSprout Inc.’s only director. His full-time position has an annual salary of $110,000.
Nathan Woodhull, founder of ChangeSprout Inc., is the only shareholder.