Last Updated May 12, 2011 8:20 AM EDT
First, says Allis, he and Houghton launched their "4-1's Corporate Social Responsibility Program" which commits the company to contributing 1% of its total payroll, 1% of employee time; 1% of product, and 1% of equity to not-for-profit organizations. "Last year, we gave away $150,000 to not-for-profits that employees selected," says Allis. "We gave about $1,000 each to 150 organizations." The company's 300 employees were also given an extra two and half days of paid time off to volunteer at the charities of their choice, and iContact gave away its email product to all North Carolina not-for-profits and also to any U.S. organization (even for-profits) with less than 500 email subscribers. Lastly, Allis and Houghton put 100,000 shares (1%) of iContact into a foundation "that will help us give back in the future." The result: "We've been able to build a better employer recruiting brand," says Allis. "We're been able to recruit better employees - people want to work for us because it's not just about the money."
Secondly, iContact officially became a B-Corp last year, ("B" stands for benefit) a relatively new designation for companies that commit to a triple bottom line. B Corporation, the not-for-profit organization that certifies companies says that:
Certified B Corporations are a new type of corporation which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. B Corps are unlike traditional businesses because they:
- Meet comprehensive and transparent social and environmental performance standards
- Meet higher legal accountability standards
- Build business constituency for good business
As iContact strives to outpace industry leader Constant Contact, Allis, who says the company is on track for $50 million in revenue this year, is clearly hoping that B-Corp designation and iContact's 4-1's program will give him a competitive edge. What do you think? Does being socially responsible give companies a leg up in the marketplace?
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Photo courtesy of iContact: Ryan Allis, second from right, with iContact staff at a charity run