Guest Blog – Rodney Willett of Impact Makers

I work for Impact Makers, a technology consulting company based in Richmond, Virginia, one of just a few dozen companies in the U.S. that have made the ultimate commitment as a social enterprise: contributing all profits to charity over the life of the company. Many people have asked us “how is that even possible?” or, more frankly “why would you give away everything?!” We welcome those questions because the answers, described below, reflect our core mission and values: making a difference in the lives of others through our work.

 Impact Makers’ all profits to charity structure is modeled after Newman’s Own – the remarkable foundation and company that Paul Newman started in the 1980’s leveraging his name and image to sell salad dressings, pasta sauces, and wide variety of other consumable products. To date, Newman’s has contributed more than $535 million in profits to thousands of charities. We are the professional services version of Newman’s, selling cloud migration and data strategy consulting services rather than gourmet popcorn and coffee but with the same ultimate purpose – using our philanthropy to help other people. Since our inception in 2006, we have contributed more than $3.2 million in cash and pro bono consulting services to charities in our communities. More significantly, those charities have used our support to meet the family health, education, and housing needs of thousands of people.

A few practical notes about our model. Yes, we do retain some earnings in order to fund future growth. But we remain true to our 100% commitment because of this important fact: Impact Makers gifted the ownership of our company to two nonprofits – the Community Foundation for a Greater Richmond (TCF) and Virginia Community Capital (VCC). What that gift means is that when Impact Makers is bought or sold, the proceeds of that sale go to those nonprofits. In turn, TCF and VCC have committed to using the proceeds to fund impact investments in other social enterprises trying to make a difference in their communities. 

The success of our social enterprise has inspired at least one other consulting company to copy most of our structure and create a similar, lasting community impact. There has been a broader impact, however, as other types companies have found inspiration from Impact Makers, Newman’s Own, and the other 100%ers to create their all profits to charity endeavors. And still more significant than that, a much larger number of companies have been moved to do more for their communities through financial and volunteer support efforts, even if they are not making the 100% commitment. Are those companies doing more because they now are more concerned about their social impact or just because of pressure to keep up with competitors that have a social impact? Regardless of the motivation of those companies, they have been affected and are doing more: the rising tide of social enterprise led by the 100%ers is causing many corporate ships to rise.