You don't have to be a nonprofit to make a difference in the world

Updated: Oct 17, 2019


We’ve had many clients come to us about creating a nonprofit because they want to give back to their community or a cause they are passionate about. And while we absolutely love that, you don’t have to have a nonprofit to contribute to the good of the world.

As a small business owner, mastering your business is important because without it, you don’t have the ability to give back. But as you are starting this business, or if you have an existing business that is thriving, you can think about having a double bottom line or even triple bottom line business model.

The bottom line for a business is the profit/loss for the year. By focusing on a double bottom line, you are also measuring the positive social impact you are having in the world. Social entrepreneurs use this double bottom line model to make an impact. For example, your business hires people that have been incarcerated and/or are in recovery. By providing folks a second chance, you are bettering your community by providing jobs and opportunity for your employees and neighbors. As your business looks to grow, this model can also lead to potential funding from venture capital funds that are focused on socially responsible investments. A couple of great examples of double bottom line businesses are Hot Chicken Takeover and Freedom A La Cart.

A double bottom line business model can also occur as a partnership with an existing non-profit. For example, you could be a food-based business that donates a portion of all sales and some product to your local foodbank. Or your business commits to supporting a cause regularly either through cash donations, business support and/or product donations. As the business owner, you could encourage employee participation with said organization through volunteering, participation in events and raising funds. A lot of companies do this by participating in fundraising events such as Pelotonia, Race for the Cure and withdrawing donations from their employees’ paychecks for the Foodbanks and United Way during giving campaigns. Other businesses provide their employees time to go volunteer to whatever organization is important to them personally. However you decide to do it, you’ll be creating a positive impact in your community.

Triple bottom line is when a company takes into effect the environmental impact of their business. This could be done through adopting practices that support our environment such as recycling, buying recyclable products, decreasing your business’ carbon footprint and buying local products. These practices can be more expensive than conventional resources but the global impact is why you’re committed to it. An example of this type of business is Blue Rock Station.

There are so many ways to make an impact in our community and the world. If we all do our part, our efforts can be substantial to make our communities better.

About Us

The LIGHTS Regional Innovation Network catalyzes the creation of companies to create high-wage jobs and attract greater private investment in the coal-impacted and opioid-impacted regions of Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky, uniquely matching the complex problems and opportunities facing our corporations, communities, and individuals to a network of strategically-placed Innovation Gateways. From this, new marketable products grow from these challenges through our work with locally partnered Innovation Gateways' business incubators and makerspaces, across a tri-state 28-county area.


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LIGHTS Regional Innovation Network

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Voinovich School of Leadership & Public Affairs
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