Planet, People, Profit. The holy trinity of purpose driven businesses, also known as the triple bottom line. It is the revolutionary idea that apart from just existing to maximise profit for shareholders, a business’s goal can be to benefit ALL stakeholders, including employees, the community and even the environment. However, it can’t be denied that out of the three P’s, profit is the least sexy one to talk about. But wait – give us five minutes to explain why finances is an important and sometimes ignored tool for radical change-making.
There’s no getting away from it, we can’t talk about finance for good without talking B Corp. Not only is the triple bottom line enshrined in the B Impact Assessment itself but B Corp certification provides a legally binding framework for us as a business, to keep on the straight and narrow. A way to measure what matters and adjust accordingly.
The B Corp movement has attempted to create an economy that works for everyone inside a broken capitalist system. Last year we celebrated reaching the milestone of 5000 B Corps worldwide, proving that it is both possible and necessary for businesses to be a force for good. And money plays an important role in that.
First, let’s talk about internal transparency. To be honest, we aim to be transparent in pretty much every aspect of the business. But sharing financial information with the whole team can seem risky and counter intuitive (and maybe a little crazy) if that’s not how your company operates at the moment.
What we have found to be true is quite the opposite. Open finances has helped our team to understand the bigger picture. It is in line with our core values of transparency and helps connect our people with our purpose. It allows you as an employee to understand how you can have an impact. And most importantly, it represents a radical shift in culture. It creates a culture of trust and accountability, as we grow together in a meaningful way. As a purpose-driven business we exist to care for our people in the wholeness of their lives and financial transparency is a way to invest in their overall wellbeing.
We are a smart bunch of people and the more information we have available to us, the more likely we are to make smart decisions. Makes sense huh?
Then there is external transparency. As part of what Futerra’s Solitaire Townsend dubbed the X Industry, our biggest environmental (and social) impact is the work we create for our clients. So who those clients are and how we make our money matters. This is why we commit to producing a yearly Climate Disclosure report. It outlines the distribution of income from all our clients and their sectors. We don’t work exclusively with ‘green clients’ as that is not necessarily where we can create the biggest change. But we do require a willingness to make changes and take positive steps from higher carbon clients.
As an industry we have the opportunity to create a rapid shift from an extractive economy to a regenerative economy. And we do our best to create change everywhere in any way we can. You can find our most recent Climate Disclosure Report here and on the Creative Climate Disclosure site alongside reports from dozens of other agencies.
Giving budget and the Grant for Good
We don’t have a marketing budget. We have the Grant for Good aka our giving budget. Every year we donate time and creative energy to worthy causes and organisations by investing at least 5% of Leap’s turnover to environmental and social projects through pro-bono hours.
Some years we offer our design for change skills to multiple projects and in other years we focus on a single recipient; sometimes the Grant for Good covers the entirety of a project’s costs, and for other projects it may cover a portion of costs and act as a discount-in-kind.
For us, this is a better use of money, time and resources. It’s a tangible way to make a difference and allows us to create work that we are proud of. Over the years we have gifted over £500k through creative time to amazing companies, projects and organisations like Barnardo’s, Inclusion Labs, Ocean Conservation Trust, the 2023 Change WithPrint calendar, Boost and many many more.
Make your money matter
While we’re on the topic of unsexy topics – pensions. I know, I know, you’re only 27 but wait til you hear these stats.
According to Make My Money Matter, the UK pensions industry is worth £3 trillion, with £20 billion invested each year into pensions by UK businesses and their employees. That is a mind boggling amount of money, and how that money is managed and invested, will most definitely shape the futures we grow old in.
Research by Make My Money Matter shows that switching to a green pension is 21x more effective at reducing your carbon footprint than giving up flying, going veggie and switching energy provider COMBINED. For every £10 invested in a non-ethical pension £2 goes towards deforestation.
“Pensions are one of the most powerful tools UK businesses have to tackle the climate emergency. But for too long, businesses have failed to capitalise on this opportunity – company pensions now finance a staggering 7 times more carbon than the emissions produced by those same businesses. For organisations to be acting credibly and decisively on climate, green pensions must be a crucial part of their plans.“
– Richard Curtis, CoFounder at Make My Money Matter
Leap is a founding member of Make My Money Matter and our own crew are on Nest ethical pensions.
As well as pension investment, who you bank with also has an impact. While switching company pensions is a relatively easy win, changing banking provider can be a little more complicated but equally important. We have found both Triodos and The Co-operative Bank to be good options.
If you haven’t come across it before, micro financing is an awesome way of putting your money to work to make the world a better place.
Leap has been micro financing since 2010 and supported over 30 small businesses across the globe.
There are a few different ways we do this.
More than 1.7 billion people around the world are unbanked and can’t access the financial services they need. Kiva is an international nonprofit, with a mission to expand financial access to help underserved communities thrive. This is probably one of the easiest ways to get started with micro finance loans and you can register both as an individual and as a team.
By lending as little as $25, you can be part of the solution and make a real difference in someone’s life.
Over the years, we have made loans to around 20 individuals and organisations. 80% of them to women, in sectors like food, health, housing, arts, education, construction and agriculture all over the world. Because Kiva is a loan, not a donation, it allows you to keep cycling your money and the same $25 dollars can benefit many different recipients.
You can add your support here – http://www.kiva.org/team/leap
Community energy support
We have invested around £2k with Thrive Renewables. We also helped finance the UK’s first community wind farm at Westmill and Community Power Cornwall, where Matt was previously on the board, to mention a few.
Before this we also bought renewables-powered cooking stoves for families in India to reduce the reliance on oil and paraffin via CO2balance. And not forgetting two decades of forest planting and protecting.
It really doesn’t matter if you only have a small amount to invest initially. Making a small financial difference is actually easier than you might think.
The other thing worth talking about is investing in our team. If you care about people, it makes sense to invest in them. As a B Corp we measure our team’s happiness as a key performance indicator. Aside from being the right and decent thing to do, happy people tend to do their jobs better. Unsurprisingly there is also a direct financial incentive – it is estimated that losing an employee can cost a company 1.5-2 times the employee’s salary. So to retain your current team and keep attracting the best talent – be a nice place to work.
We should probably share more in depth how we endeavour to do this and what we’ve learned over the years (keep your eyes peeled for that article) but for example – each team member gets 5 paid volunteering days a year, up to two extra days’ holiday to encourage slow travel. We have a training budget for courses to build out skills and professional development, flexible working arrangements and a human/nature friendly space to work in.
You made it to the end, I hope that was in some way useful. And if you have thoughts, feedback or tips to share, we’d love to hear them. Say hi on LinkedIn.
“Money is a system of mutual trust, and not just any system of mutual trust: money is the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever devised.”
― Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind