In this series, readers of SEE Change profile social entrepreneurs in their community
More than 30 years ago, Thomas Raffa established the first of what would become many businesses. Since that time, his accounting and consulting firm, Raffa, P.C., not only strengthened the nonprofit sector in the United States but also proved that for-profit companies dedicated to social good can thrive. Last month, Raffa re-certified as a B Corp, boosting its score in the process.
For consumer brands like Patagonia who are also B Corps, social good and social responsibility have never been just buzz words. The same goes for Raffa. “Our B Corp certification is one demonstration of our commitment to do better for our community, our clients, our staff and our world” says Raffa. “We believe leading and succeeding as a B Corp serves as an inspiration and a model for other business leaders who may question whether or not they should be focused on important factors other than their bottom line. There are entrepreneurs around the globe who want to live their values in their business and personal lives. We are proof that it can be done.”
That commitment to that double bottom line was plainly evident in the recent annual corporate social responsibility report. “As a business, our goal is to strike a balance that puts the value of profit, society and environment on equal footing and ensures that what we do today to meet our stakeholder needs will not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Our mandate is to leave the planet better than we found it,” it states, also noting that the firm contributed more than $3.8 million in cash, in-kind and pro bono services in 2014. The fact that their personal commitment to issues, charities and organizations are supported by the firm – both in dollars and time off to volunteer – is one factor that attracts talented staff to work at Raffa.
In addition to leading his businesses with more than just profit in mind, Tom Raffa has been a leader in rethinking corporate philanthropy. One example of his commitment to social change driven by business is the nonprofit Companies for Causes which Raffa founded with several other business leaders in the Washington, D.C. community. These CEOs, tired of supporting one-off charitable causes with few results, decided to try something different. Their first effort found them building a partnership with a local high school in a struggling community in the nation’s capital. In addition to critical dollars that the school needs, the CEOs have developed a strong relationship with the school’s leaders providing mentoring, strategic guidance and in-kind contributions that meet specific needs as they are identified.
Now Tom Raffa is also turning his attention to supporting both nonprofits and the corporate sector overseas. In India, the government passed a law in 2013 requiring many companies to invest at least two percent of their net profits in socially responsible projects around the country. This amounts to more than $2 billion in annual giving that will transform the NGO (nongovernmental organization) community in India. “Businesses in India have always given back to their communities, but this change in the law offers business owners and boards a chance to reevaluate what type of impact they want to have and how they should best invest those dollars for the greatest good – both for the community and for their brand,” says Raffa.
Tom Raffa is assisting business leaders in India as the Knowledge and Equity Partner at Vardaan. Vardaan means “giver of good fortune,” and the company is becoming a key partner to businesses across the country, investing to help them do good while growing their own bottom lines.
“As Raffa, P.C. continues to grow and our reach expands across the globe, we are now helping other businesses who believe, as we do, that companies should be the drivers of positive economic and social outcomes. This is not about just being charitable, writing a check or paying lip-service to causes,” Raffa explains.
Raffa continues working toward one unifying goal: to redefine how success is measured in business. Learn more at www.raffa.com.
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