Frequently Asked Questions
Why do we showcase success through lists like the Fortune 500 that measure success based on revenue alone? Why isn’t there a list that profiles the world’s top purpose-driven organizations?
This was the epiphany that struck Andrew Hewitt in 2010 and led him on the journey to create GameChangers 500. After a few years of publishing top 500 rankings, a pivot was made to create GameChangers.co—a searchable database of for-benefit enterprises that could also be used to create different types of rankings. Rather than an annual top 500 which takes significant resources to produce and is highly subjective, the website would help interested groups find companies that excel in specific best practices categories and industries.
Pioneers like Patagonia, Zappos, and Etsy were developing meaningful new practices that other companies could learn from, like how to build a tribe culture or become a waste zero office. Yet, there wasn’t a common space where these practices were being shared. Offering this space to share best practices became an additional intention of GameChangers.co.
After several years researching and ranking the world’s top purpose-driven companies, Andrew Hewitt joined 180+ other thought leaders at Harvard University to explore the development of a Fourth Sector. Rather than certifying or ranking companies as “good for the planet” what if we created an entirely new sector that sits alongside for-profit, non-profit, and government entities? Doing so would create a legal distinction between for-profits, non-profits, and the emerging new sector now known as “for-benefit”. Having for-benefit enterprises legally recognized at the federal level of government would enable the possibility to offer tax benefits to such enterprises, ensure the purpose of the organization was upheld overtime, while also enabling the enterprise to be more flexible than a traditional non-profit in how it raises capital and rewards workers. The Fourth Sector Mapping Initiative (FSMI) was established to carry forward this history making mission, Andrew Hewitt joined the advisory council, and the process began to clearly identify the primary and secondary characteristics of for-benefit enterprises.
The primary characteristics of a for-benefit enterprises were established to be:
- Generate one or more social or environmental benefits as its primary purpose.
- Generate the majority of its revenue from the sale of goods or services in the marketplace.
As the research initiative continued, received more funding and formalized into place-based initiatives around the country, a database was needed to showcase organizations that met the emerging definitions of a “for-benefit enterprise”. GameChangers.co was positioned to support this need and to act as a searchable global database of for-benefit businesses, their practices, and the experts who support their growth.
GameChangers.co is currently a free information resource for anyone interested in learning more about for-benefit enterprises and the 12 categories of practices they have in common.
Andrew Hewitt is the creator of GameChangers.co and remains in charge of this free resource. If you are interested in helping update, advance, or repurpose this resource, contact Andrew directly at andrew.h(at)gamechangers.co
This has been an ever-evolving process.The most comprehensive (and visual) description of this process can be read about in a feature produced by Conscious Company Magazine. See the full feature here: www.gamechangers.co/ccmag
This feature includes “the world’s top 25 for-benefit companies” according to the GameChangers ranking methodology. All of the organizations ranked for this publication are profiled accordingly on GameChangers.co
Currently, there is no application process to be profiled on GameChangers.co. The large majority of organizations currently featured were found through various research efforts which often involved the organization completing an assessment and submitting proof of practices. Organizations could never pay to be assessed and were only profiled based on merit.
There are 12 categories of best practices used to profile organizations. The first category, purpose-first, is considered the most important as it’s one of the two primary characteristics that define a for-benefit business. The second primary characteristic is to earn more than 50% of revenue through selling goods and services (as opposed to donation or tax revenue). If an organization meets these two criteria it is categorized as “for-benefit” on this website.
The remaining 11 categories used to profile an organization’s positive impact include practices like eco-minded materials, remarkable customer care, and earth-friendly energy. They cover the full spectrum of how an organization can maximize its positive impact on people and the planet.
Each best practice category is represented by a badge. The badge acts as a visual symbol of a company’s leadership in that category.
To learn more about each of the 12 best practices categories, see: Practices
A for-benefit organization is organized and operated to:
1) Generate one or more social or environmental benefits as its primary purpose.
2) Generate the majority of its revenue from the sale of goods or services in the marketplace.
The primary reason to be a for-benefit business is to ensure your purpose and values are upheld as your organization grows or changes ownership. It’s a model on how to ensure your genuine care for people and the planet are fully expressed through business activity. There is also a compelling business case, which can be read about here .
Click here for the four steps to demonstrate your for-benefit values. These are the steps we look for when qualifying an organization as for-benefit on GameChangers.co.
Until future legislation is passed, we classify both purpose-driven for-profits and enterprising non-profits as For-Benefit organizations. Regardless of legal structure, the organization must demonstrate that the majority of its income is earned revenue (rather than grants or donations), and therefore that it uses an enterprising model to maximize benefit to people and the planet. We would also classify a government-owned initiative as for-benefit as long as it generates the majority of its revenue through sales (rather than taxes). Some national parks earn more than 50% of their revenue through selling access to the park and thus would be considered a for-benefit organization.
Benefit Corporations and certified B-Corps do not include non-profits and government-owned initiatives.
What most people refer to as “B Corps” are organizations that have received a third-party certification by a non-profit organization called B Labs. The certification doesn’t require the organization to have social or environmental benefits as its primary purpose; it focuses on whether a company makes a material positive impact on society and the environment and meets certain standards of accountability and transparency. That said, there are numerous B-Corp certified companies that meet the definition to be considered for-benefit. You can even search specifically by B-corps on the Companies page.