Ben Rattray once dreamed of being Wall Street’s next Gordon Gekko. The enduring ambition sustained him through college and the dot-com boom, but everything changed the day he learned his brother was gay. As the realization of all his brother and family would face settled in, he realized he needed to take action to bring about the change he wanted in the world. That’s how Ben came to found a little something called Change.org, the world’s largest petition platform, which, in 2012 surpassed more than 25 million users in 196 countries.
But Ben doesn’t believe affecting change begins and ends with individuals. He also believes the power to perform social good lives within every American business. In fact, Change.org is a for-profit company because Rattray believes generating revenue provides a stronger position in which to invest in social good.
“No matter what product or service you sell, you’re already in a position to have a positive effect your community and, at the very least, your employees.”
Ben Rattray, Founder — Change.org
While it’s true large companies like Microsoft, Google, The Walt Disney Company, BMW and Apple are on the leading edge of corporate social responsibility (CSR), social good is not beyond the reach of even the smallest business. Nor should it be. It turns out there’s greater value in social good than a pure intent of helping others.
A Reputation Institute study found 42 percent of how people feel about a company is based on their perceptions of the firm’s CSR. Another study by Cone Communications and Echo Research translated goodwill into market position with more than 90 percent of shoppers worldwide saying they would be likely to switch to brands that support a good cause, given similar price and quality.
Even the smallest CSR program can have a serious impact on the health of a business. Getting there isn’t difficult or expensive. It just takes a willingness to invest in something bigger than any business: society.