David Barach and Earl Bridges turned the model for charitable giving on its head when they founded their corporate social responsibility service, Good Done Great, in Tacoma seven years ago.
The city is home to the University of Washington–Tacoma’s Center for Leadership and Social Responsibility, one of few such centers in the United States, as well as the philanthropy software firms GIVINGtrax Inc. and WPG Solutions.
The software from Good Done Great helps large firms manage employee donations, matching gifts and grants, and volunteer programs. Good Done Great makes money by selling its software and collecting about a 5 percent processing fee — the exact amount is negotiable — for disbursing charitable contributions to nonprofits.
Good Done Great offers employers greater flexibility in choosing nonprofits to which its employees can make direct donations. It also offers a social platform to encourage donations and volunteer activity. Weyerhaeuser and Holland America are among Good Done Great’s 28 Fortune 500 clients.
The focus on individual giving reflects the increasing influence of young millennials in the workforce “who want to work for a company that shares their values,” says Barach, the firm’s CEO. Companies now tend to ask employees which causes they want the company to support through donations, corporate sponsorships and volunteer programs.
“It’s part of their employee engagement strategy,” says Barach. He sees a move away from centralized United Way-style campaigns that offer employees fewer options and typically have as much as 17 percent overhead, more than triple what Good Done Great charges.
Barach and Bridges met in 2004 when both were working at San Diego-based Kintera, a software company serving the nonprofit sector. They stayed in touch even though Barach later moved to Washington state and Bridges to South Carolina.
Last year, the company moved its headquarters from Tacoma to Charleston to allow it to incorporate as a benefit corporation (B-Corp), which requires more stringent reporting guidelines to show the company is actually having a positive impact on society. While Washington state does allow incorporation of a social purpose corporation (SPC) that has a social mission as its primary goal, it does not provide for B-Corp status. SPC guidelines have since been amended to allow Washington companies to provide more detailed information on how they are fulfilling their missions. These firms have the option of being certified as a benefits corporation by a third party.
At Good Done Great, seven employees, including Barach, remain in Tacoma. Two work in Denver and 27, including Bridges, Good Done Great’s president, are now in Charleston.
Good Done Great has raised $1.1 million so far to expand services to midmarket and smaller businesses, and to provide individual giving accounts so employees can set aside money for charitable contributions. The company has also obtained a $500,000 loan through Seattle-based Lighter Capital.
As consumers become more interested in doing business with companies that are socially responsible, Barach adds, “We think corporate social responsibility is something that is ripe to move down market to a broad usage base.”