The conscious business landscape includes numerous industry groups that serve the various interests of the community, from impact investing and policy to social entrepreneurship and local business. These organizations play a critical role in educating, connecting, and convening individuals who believe in the power of business as a force for good. Here’s the scoop on some of the leading players you might consider joining — and some of their most well-known members or partners.
This Washington, DC-based membership organization advocates for policy change to build a more sustainable economy. The ASBC helps leaders of sustainable, socially responsible businesses engage with policymakers, gain media exposure, inform the public, and more. Founded in 2009, it has more than 250 business and association members representing more than 250,000 businesses.
Membership Cost: $250–$15,000 annually, depending on company revenue
Primary Focus Areas (at both the federal and state level):
- Climate and environment
- The high-road workplace
- Sustainable economic development
Best Suited For: Business owners and executives who take a triple-bottom-line approach and want to pursue changes in government policy to hasten the transition to a prosperous, sustainable economy that works for all.
Learn more: ASBC has written many articles for Conscious Company; click here to read more about their work and point of view.
Based in Oakland, CA, since 2001, BALLE has been bringing people together throughout the US and Canada who are using the strategies from its Local Economy Framework to create healthy, equitable communities.
Primary Focus Area: Community and economic development, leadership development, convening leaders
Best Suited For: BALLE no longer operates with a membership model, i.e., it does not directly serve entrepreneurs, but rather the organizations, support systems, and funders who serve entrepreneurs. It convenes three communities of practice: the Local Economy Fellowship (for local economy leaders and practitioners who convene and support small businesses across the US and Canada), the Local Economy Investors Circle (individuals working to influence the field of place-based impact investing), and the Local Economy Foundation Circle (community, private, and health foundations shifting their investment assets toward place-based impact investing to go all-in for their missions).
Learn more: BALLE has written articles for Conscious Company; click here to read more about their work and point of view.
3. B Lab
B Lab is a nonprofit organization founded in 2006 that serves a global movement using Business as a Force For GoodTM. From its Berwyn, PA, headquarters, B Lab is building a global community of Certified B CorporationsTM (numbering more than 2,000 across 55 countries and 130 industries), promoting innovative corporate structures like the benefit corporation, and helping 50,000+ businesses, investors, and institutions measure what matters through its B Impact Assessment and B Analytics.
Primary Focus: B Lab is the nonprofit that certifies B Corporations, companies that use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.
Cost: Cost of certification varies depending on the size of company.
Best Suited For: For-profit companies that are using their business as a force for good
Founded in 1992, BSR (Business for Social Responsibility) is a San Francisco-based global nonprofit that works with a network of more than 250 member companies and other partners to build a just and sustainable world. From offices in Asia, Europe, and North America, BSR develops sustainable business strategies through consulting, research, and cross-sector collaboration.
Primary Focus Area: Sustainable business, which encompasses climate change, human rights, women’s empowerment, inclusive economy, supply chain, and sustainability management
Cost: Dues vary depending on size of company.
Best Suited For: Large multinational companies and other entities with an interest in integrating or promoting sustainable practices
Since 2010, this San Francisco-based nonprofit has been producing events, workshops, publications, and academic research serving a movement of more than 15,000 people. Conscious Capitalism Inc. also supports a growing network of Conscious Capitalism Chapters around the world.
Primary Focus Area: Elevating humanity through business
Cost: Multi-tiered fees to enable individual, chapter, and corporate membership opportunities
Best Suited For: CEOs and their executive leadership teams, entrepreneurs, the consultants and coaches who support them, and anyone interested in learning more about the practice of Conscious Capitalism
Founded in 2009, the Global Impact Investing Network is a New York-based nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the scale and effectiveness of impact investing around the world through work with its 230 members.
Primary Focus Area: Building critical infrastructure and supporting activities, education, and research to help accelerate the development of a coherent impact investing industry
Best Suited For: Membership is primarily designed to support investors and the growth of their impact investment practices. Organizations of all types that make — or plan to make — impact investments are invited to apply. Organizations providing or seeking to provide services to impact investors, such as law firms, investment advisors, ratings agencies, and placement agents, are also invited to apply to join the community.
Gratitude Railroad represents a community of investors with accomplished careers, some as entrepreneurs and business leaders, dedicated to cultivating the next generation of investment managers, and leading businesses using capitalism to solve environmental and social challenges. It was founded in 2015 in Park City, UT, and currently has no formal membership program.
Primary Focus Area: To invest in for-profit businesses that are helping solve social and environmental challenges
Best Suited For: Investors from the “traditional” capital markets with experience as entrepreneurs, operators, and investors
Based in Hartford, CT, the ISSP is the world’s leading professional association for sustainability professionals. Formed in 2007, ISSP has more than 1,000 members from every region of the world.
Primary Focus Area: Professional certifications, webinars, online courses, special reports, resource directories, and more
Cost: $150 annually
Best Suited For: Sustainability professionals, academics, and students
Since 1987, San Francisco-based SVN has been the leading peer-to-peer network of mission-driven business leaders, social entrepreneurs, and impact investors who are leveraging the power of business to solve social, economic, and environmental problems. SVN’s 500 members create a community where leaders can make connections, share ideas, and find the inspiration they need to build a more just, humane, and sustainable world.
Primary Focus Area: Peer-to-peer networking in a community of mission-aligned, high-impact business leaders
Best Suited For: High-impact mission-aligned business leaders — typically C-level executives, owners, founders, and presidents; investors and funders — typically senior executives, founders, partners, and private individuals
Founded in 2013, the Palo Alto, CA-based Tugboat Institute is a membership organization (100+ as of 2017) that brings together CEOs across industry sectors to share best practices and unique insights around Evergreen business. Evergreen businesses are led by purpose-driven leaders with the grit and resourcefulness to build and scale private, profitable, enduring, and market-leading businesses. They put their people first and avoid raising capital that puts money before mission and imposes a growth-at-all-costs or exit-oriented mindset. The Tugboat Institute also certifies Evergreen companies.
Primary Focus Area: CEO membership, Evergreen company certification, Evergreen movement
Cost: Depends on organization size
Best suited for: CEOs and owner-operators of privately held, profitable, and purposeful organizations
Rachel is Conscious Company’s former editor-in-chief. Before joining the CCM team, she worked at Backpacker and Wired magazines.