Philanthropy should be an integral part of business

Encircle is a nonprofit organization founded to bring families and communities together so LGBTQ youth can thrive. “Encircle’s success stems from the incredible generosity of both individuals and corporations to fulfill this mission,” says Larsen.

“Where the purpose of business is profit; Non-profit organizations are tasked with solving difficult societal problems. Both are essential for thriving communities. Nonprofits cannot do their jobs without the generosity and dedication of philanthropy,” says Larsen. Collaboration between for-profit corporations and non-profit organizations allows philanthropic giving to reach its maximum potential.

Clarke believes that Utah’s for-profit businesses can also benefit from fostering a culture of philanthropy from the start, citing the success of a number of state business leaders who have run their businesses with philanthropy as a core value. “We’ve all watched the legendary generosity of the Eccles, the Millers and the Huntsmans for decades, but it’s important to remember that it doesn’t take a generational family foundation to do good. The next generation can and should give throughout the growth of our business,” says Clarke.

For evidence of Clarke’s first theory of philanthropy, look no further than Utah’s Cotopaxi. Utah’s first certified benefit corporation was founded with philanthropy as a core value. When Cotopaxi launched in 2014, its mission to eradicate extreme poverty and show that business can be a force for good in the world was uniquely central to its brand promise.

DavisSmith, Founder and CEO of Cotopaxi, attributes the company’s success to his deep commitment to giving back. “In the first five years of Cotopaxi’s history, we gave away more money than we made. It took a lot of courage and trust to take the step of putting purpose and mission above profit,” says Smith.

Cotopaxi takes a holistic approach to poverty alleviation by allocating a percentage of its earnings to poverty alleviation efforts, skills-based volunteerism and product donations. Last year they supported nearly 1.3 million people living in poverty through their Cotopaxi Foundation. The company is also certified carbon neutral, a member of 1 Percent for the Planet and was recently backed by Bain Capital Double Impact, Bain Capital’s $1.2 billion impact fund.

“When I think about what has made Cotopaxi successful, we believe it is courage Optimism of everyday people choosing to support responsible capitalism. The future of capitalism will see consumers and workers giving their time and money to companies that care deeply about their communities, protect our planet and prioritize interest groups over profits. Ultimately, I believe that doing good and doing good are not mutually exclusive, but will be inextricably linked as we work to create a better version of capitalism,” Smith says.

The value of philanthropy is recognized by business leaders across the state. This recognition has been instrumental in establishing Utah’s charitable reputation. “For a business community to thrive, prioritizing philanthropy and service is absolutely critical,” he says Brandon FugalChairman of Colliers International and one of Utah’s most prominent real estate and business leaders.

Fugal is no stranger to philanthropy himself and has been recognized in the state for his generous donations. “Supporting charitable causes, including scholarships and programs at Utah Valley University, fighting abuse with SapreaDonations for homeless initiatives and promotion of women in technology tech moms will continue to be an important part of my personal mission. I’m personally grateful for the opportunities to give back and to connect with others to work together to improve our community,” says Fugal.

Clarke recently returned to Clearlink, a company he founded more than 20 years ago, sold more than 10 years ago and repurchased in 2021. Clarke recognizes the importance of corporate philanthropy in the state and is excited as the company expands on its history of giving. To expand Clearlink’s corporate responsibility presence and increase the company’s impact, Clarke will help the company establish two new philanthropy channels, Clearlink Cares and Clearlink Causes.

Clearlink Cares will support volunteer efforts in all Clearlink employee communities, Enabling Clearlinkers to engage in their communities in ways that reflect their passion stand up for others and donate their time and talent. Clearlink Causes is focused on enabling Clearlink employees to channel dollars to the organizations that have the greatest impact on their lives and communities as Clearlink provides 1:1 donation matching of up to $1,000 per employee per year. This initiative was started with a $100,000 donation from Andrea and James Clarke.

Legacies of service and philanthropy like those mentioned here are part of what makes Utah so strong. Any business, small or established, should prioritize philanthropy as both a growth tool and a goal to move toward, Clarke says. This is proven to strengthen communities and businesses alike and help build a better Utah.

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