Change Agents: 4 Central Ohioans Who Know Altruism is Good for Business

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Making money for the common good: Yes, it's possible, say a small-but-growing group of Columbus entrepreneurs who are pairing the traditional business model with a charitable reach. The marketplace, it seems, doesn't have to be all about competition. Sometimes, good business means doing good work-for your bottom line and for your community.

But is this strategy a flash-in-the-pan business trend or a social change that's here for good? According to one local pro, it's an idea with staying power.

"The reason more companies are working this way is they realize there's a limit to what government and charities can do. And the need is, of course, still huge," explains Allen Proctor, founder of Linking Mission to Money, a company that helps social enterprises find the financial support necessary to succeed. "In practice, it's actually very common … in the UK and Canada and in other states. But here, we haven't talked about it much."

Proctor describes a social enterprise as "saying, 'I'm going to do good while making enough money to support doing that good.' It's the freedom from and a supplement for philanthropy.

"There are some (organizations) still struggling with whether it's OK to make money," Proctor continues. "But, the reality is, you either make money or you lose money. And many are starting to realize that if revenue is earned, philanthropy is being leveraged."

We spoke with four of the men who are in the biz of social change. Here's why, in their words, doing good is good business.