Have you ordered your Warby Parker glasses yet? I got my first pair delivered last week, and they’re awesome. High-style, high-quality eyewear, a great price, and excellent customer service. And the best part? For every pair of glasses I buy, the company gives away a pair to someone else who needs them. Pretty cool.
Warby Parker is a B-Corporation: a company committed to doing social good as well as making a profit. Like Tom’s Shoes, Patagonia, and Seventh Generation, Warby has language built into its founding documents that empower shareholders to hold it accountable for its philanthropic mission as well as its fiduciary integrity. (The “B” stands for “benefit,” and the program is overseen by a nonprofit called B Lab, which certifies the companies.) It’s part of the larger triple P movement happening in Portland and in other progressive places around the world.
This is the direction business is headed. For too long there’s been a thick wall between for- and non-profits, with charities being penalized for acting like regular businesses and regular businesses shirking their social responsibilities to do good in the world. Those days are numbered. There are more than 1,000 B-Corps now, and more are signing up all the time.
One of the things that galvanized my professional mission was Dan Pallotta’s amazing TED Talk, when he shined a light on the incredible double standard that punishes nonprofits for spending money on marketing, while rewarding businesses for doing so.
I see things shifting. Companies like Warby Parker and other B Corps understand that while consumers want cool stuff, they also have a conscience; and nonprofits are beginning to find the courage not to apologize spending a chunk of their budget on marketing. Smart nonprofits know that in the long run, spending a little on overhead can make a huge difference in their ability to help the causes they serve.