I am for you

benefit corporations

how could your work benefit both the community and yourself?

In another example of the world becoming more creative, even in some of the most mainstream places, the legal system in at least some US states (and probably elsewhere, as well) is beginning to experiment with mating the two parents of for-profit businesses and non-profit organizations for a new and improved creature that shares some of the best of both.

The best parts of for-profits are the motivation to innovate and to find ways to be highly efficient when it comes to resource use. The best parts of non-profits include the motivation to improve the quality of life for some particular community (be it physically, emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually based) and to do so without constantly feeling forced to give valuable resources to those who don’t actually need them (via corporate taxes and profits).

I have been saying for a long time that my own working situation, with both The Wise Turtle philosophy counseling and Binikou, is essentially a “non-profit business”. I’ve been suggesting that we need to have this kind of thing become a legally recognized category for people to choose from, so that more people would be encouraged and supported in creating projects that have the following primary goals:

1. To actively improve the physical, emotional, intellectual, and/or spiritual health of the world in some specific way

2. To ensure that those doing the work are taken good care of, so that they can do their jobs most effectively

3. To give investor~donors an official assurance that all resources the project receives are going directly towards the specified cause

Right now, in the US states of Maryland, Vermont, and New York, there is a first baby step at creating something like this. They are calling it the Benefit Corporation, or B-Corp. This category of business allows a company to put bylaws in place that leave some freedom for company leaders to choose to put social~environmental priorities above monetary profits. This particular offspring of for- and non-profits still misses out on number three up there, and doesn’t fully put numbers one and two at the top of the goals list, but it’s getting closer to the sort of creature people like me are looking for – being officially recognized as doing pro-world work while also having more political and monetary freedom, so that we can more easily move resources around to best suit the community’s needs, and speak out when doing so might be the best way to solve the everyone’s problems.

The philosophical way to describe this sort of category might be to say that it’s a utilitarian company – using company resources to achieve the most long term benefits for the most individuals is a goal that comes well above gaining short term benefits and/or benefits that go to only a few individuals.

Of course, as no situation in life is perfect, there will always be at least some conflict when it comes to serving the needs of the individuals doing the work and the needs of the community they are working for. This is why we have more than one category for approaching work. For-profits put the priority on trying to serve the needs of the legally recognized “owners” of the business (either the stock holders, the creator, or the workers). Non-profits, of course, put the priority on trying to serve the needs of the community. And now we’re starting to legally acknowledge that there are at least some folks out there who are excited about trying to find ways to do both at the same time, which is definitely a good start in working with the not-just-black-or-white reality of complexity and evolution.


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