ChangeSprout Inc., a benefit corporation based in New York, provides digital advocacy tools to progressive organizations around the world.
At ChangeSprout we spent much of 2018 focused on large projects aimed at updating the ControlShift platform to better serve our customers. In the beginning of the year, the EU’s GDPR led us to reaffirm our commitment to data privacy and protection, while also building significant infrastructure to meet our EU customers’ specifications. Later in the year, our work focused on improving our events tools to make it easier for organization members and administrators to successfully host and manage distributed events at scale. Throughout the year, our engineering team has also worked on a complete overhaul of our admin screens. This multi-year project is aimed at improving the admin experience through cleaner designs, mobile optimizations, and more intuitive interfaces.
While these projects accounted for large portions of ChangeSprout’s engineering time, we also continued to make improvements to other areas of the platform based on feedback from customers and their changing needs.
As we enter 2019, this report allows us to reflect on the past year, measure the impact we’ve had, and make a plan for the coming year.
GENERAL PUBLIC BENEFIT
Selecting a Third-Party Standard:
As in previous years, we’ve chosen to use B Lab’s B Impact Assessment to score our impact. B Lab is a pioneer in the benefit corporation community, and their assessment continues to be one of the most highly-regarded third-party standards.
Since our initial assessment, B Lab has worked to refine their assessment and tailor questions to suit remote companies like ChangeSprout. While the assessment continues to have criteria that do not apply to our business model, we find value in judging our impact against the same standard to more easily track our impact improvements. The tips provided by B Lab also help guide our planning for the coming year.
Pursuit of the General Public Benefit and the Extent the General Public Benefit was Created:
At the time of our incorporation, ChangeSprout decided to pursue a general public benefit, which is defined as a “material positive impact on society and the environment.”
General Public Benefit:
ChangeSprout’s work is centered on the idea that people should drive moments, even when they happen online. Our tools are built with that aim in mind; we believe that empowering regular people to become leaders in their communities makes the movements we support more authentic, robust, and effective.
We have seen this model of people-powered, member-led organizing work in diverse contexts around the world, and our partner organizations are at the forefront of this model of organizing.
The following is a selection of member-led campaigns that our tools powered in the last year:
In New Zealand, two high school students ran a campaign to improve the sexual education curriculum taught in New Zealand high schools and ensure that it included information about consent. With the help of ActionStation, they delivered their petition to their Member of Parliament and attracted the attention of the national media. The government then announced that they would be funding a nationwide rollout of consent education programs.
In Romania, thousands of De Clic supporters came together to pressure the government into enacting more robust domestic violence laws, which included provisions allowing police officers to issue provisional orders of protection when danger is imminent.
In Ireland, students partnered with Uplift to prevent their classmate and his family from being deported. Nonso, now 14 years old, had lived in Ireland for 12 years, but he and his family were told that they would soon be deported back to Nigeria. After 20,000 Uplift members came together, Irish Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan overturned the deportation order.
In South Africa, Amandla.mobi members pressured the finance minister to ‘zero rate’ menstrual pads, meaning that they will no longer be subject to VAT. They also secured funding to make menstrual products available for free in schools.
In the UK, the government announced that women fleeing domestic abuse would no longer be able to use government housing benefits to pay for lodging in domestic violence shelters. After nearly 200,000 38 Degrees members came together to oppose this new rule, the government announced that it would no longer be implementing the planned change.
Here in the US, 11,000 Coworker.org members convinced Starbucks to begin offering accrued sick time for baristas. In another campaign, Coworker.org fought for and won severance pay for Toys R Us employees.
In addition to campaigns advocating for better workplaces, refugee protections, and other progressive social change, we also saw campaigns that were specifically aimed at protecting the environment.
Through our work with national and regional Greenpeace offices, we have helped power campaigns asking cities to switch to renewable energy, pressuring cafeterias to offer meat-free meal options, and working to make cities safer for cyclists.
Additionally, in New Zealand, TOKO members convinced the Minister for the Environment to propose an official ban on microbeads. After years of organizing, the government announced the ban in June.
In the UK, 38 Degrees member Geraint launched a petition asking the Walkers Crisps company to use recyclable packaging. Hundreds of thousands of 38 Degrees members signed the campaign and began sending their empty crisps bags back to the company, leading to international media attention. In response, Walkers announced that it would begin recycling the bags and turning them into benches, watering cans, and plant pots.
Similarly, 38 Degrees members also called on Unilever to remove plastic from their PG Tips brand of tea bags. After extensive UK coverage of the petition campaign, it was announced that PG Tips bags will no longer contain plastic and will be fully biodegradable.
In Ireland, Uplift members convinced a national food chain to stop stocking plastic straws in their restaurants, cafes, and pubs.
The results of ChangeSprout’s 2018 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 our percentage of points earned, increased. Since our incorporation, we have worked to make ChangeSprout’s financial positions and decision making processes transparent to employees and, where appropriate, customers. We have also ensured that our commitment to progressive social change is enshrined in ChangeSprout’s governing documents.
Further increasing our governance score would likely require changes to our legal structure, so for the coming year we will be focusing on maintaining our high governance score by continuing to be transparent in our business practices and accountable to ourselves, our customers, and other members of the movement.
As with governance, our score for workers and total percentage of points earned also increased in 2018. ChangeSprout is a small company, but we are committed to ensuring that all employees are paid a living wage and given access to a full suite of benefits. We also regularly solicit employee input during strategic decisions and use 360 degree feedback mechanisms.
In the coming year, we will continue to support and empower our workers. In particular, we will:
- Provide one-on-one training and coaching to new employees.
- Offer more professional development opportunities to existing employees.
Our community percentage decreased slightly over the last year. As a fully remote team whose customers are located around the world, our community is not easily constrained to the vicinity immediately surrounding our main office. Nevertheless, in the next year, we will work to improve our communities by:
- Offering trainings about diversity, equity, and inclusion to our employees
- Setting targets and tracking employee volunteer hours
Our customers percentage increased dramatically over the last year. In previous years, the assessment focused on companies that directly served impoverished or at-risk communities, which is not our business model. This year, the assessment was updated to better track companies, like ChangeSprout, who provide services to other organizations working to improve their respective communities.
For ChangeSprout, our high score came from using customer feedback to guide the development of our product, being dedicated to data and privacy protection, and using a sliding scale pricing model to make our product available to underserved populations.
In the coming year, we will continue to partner with our customers to build the tools that will help them have the greatest impact possible.
Our environment percentage decreased slightly in 2018. While B Lab has updated the assessment to make it more applicable to remote teams, the remaining environmental impact questions are still more focused on companies that operate their own facilities. Because the majority of our employees work from home offices and/or shared office spaces, it is difficult for us to measure our energy usage. Additionally, our infrastructure provider – which is likely the largest contributor to our energy usage – does not provide transparent energy usage data. We have tried to estimate and offset our carbon footprint though renewable energy credits, but we recognize that there is more we can do to be good stewards of the environment.
In the coming year, we will continue to do our best to offset our carbon footprint, while advocating for more transparency from our infrastructure provider.
COMPENSATION OF DIRECTORS
Nathan Woodhull is ChangeSprout Inc.’s only director. His full-time position has an annual salary of $107,195.
Nathan Woodhull, founder of ChangeSprout Inc., is the only shareholder.