In our ever-changing economy it is becoming apparent that social responsibility is not only morally justified, but may also increase capital.

Both consumers and employees are beginning to support organizations who respond to the needs of the community and society as a whole.  According to Forbes magazine, “more than 88% of consumers think companies should try to achieve their business goals while improving society and the environment.” Being a socially responsible business is not only more attractive to consumers, but will potentially attract investors who support the cause as well. 

Companies and organizations often form synergistic relationships when operating in a coworking environment. One clear example of this is a growing alliance forged at Impact Hub Boulder between a community action group, C3 Boulder, and the City of Boulder.  C3 Boulder, also known as the Climate Culture Collaborative, is a backbone organization that focuses on addressing climate change here in Boulder by embracing ideas of collaboration, connection, and celebration.  C3 Boulder has been operating out of the Impact Hub since its inception. 

“The Hub has provided the perfect neutral space to bring disparate groups and people together, working collaboratively across sectors to create a magnified impact on climate”, says Emma Ruffin, director of C3. “We choose Impact Hub to host our events. And with their central location, it’s like a “fishbowl” in downtown Boulder with its large windows and eye-catching interior.  As people walk by our events, the curiosity grows and the turnout increases.”  

Conversation inspired by community organizer Peter Block at one of C3’s Boulder Earth Nights. Photo credit: Jim Robb

One of C3 Boulder’s long-term partnerships is with the City of Boulder. According to their website, the City has agreed to an audacious climate action plan that includes “a commitment to an 80 percent reduction in community greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2050.”

Part of what makes the City/C3 relationship so fruitful is the fact that C3 is able to be agile and experimental in their efforts—connecting with community in an authentic, grassroots way that the city has struggled to harness over the years. An example of this is the #TogetherWeWill micro-grant program, which focused on attracting a wide spectrum of people, in particular, entrepreneurs with socially responsible business ideas that needed capital.

The program culminated with a public event where potential grant recipients were given a space to share about their idea/project over food and drink, brainstorming collaboration and sharing their challenges and success stories. The event doubled the expected attendance, drawing attention from the Boulder community at large.

The city was so impressed by the turn out that they have requested to increase their 2018 budget to include more funding for the Micro-Grant Project, thus directly investing in the Boulder community.  In doing this, Boulder is increasing climate action and building support and trust across the diverse network of environmental organizations, institutions, and individuals.

Creating any sort of lasting change requires many people and groups acting in collaboration. In the award winning book, Change Here Now, author Adam Brock explains the importance of balancing hierarchy and networking within any organization.  He compares this relationship to a tree: the tree roots represent the supportive hierarchy which connects with the mycelial network to maximize nutrient absorption.  Much like the tree analogy, the city of Boulder provided the hierarchy necessary to support and fund C3’s micro-grant program. When combined with the strong network provided by Impact Hub, we see the perfect balance to sustain an initiative and create a lasting change.  

It is clear that our world is hungry for social responsibility and impact. There is a growing network within our community: groups who want to initiate some sort of positive change, but do not have the support, funding, or structure to do so.

To use the tree metaphor again, these networks need to find their roots to sustain a balance and be successful.  What sorts of collaborative impact or social responsibility does your company or organization engage in?  We want to learn more about how we can help foster it. Please share with us in the comments below.

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