Better Know a B: Neighbourly
neighbourly is the first social network to connect local projects and community needs with companies ready to help with funds and volunteering programmes. Founder Nick Davies kindly gave us some of his time to share what neighbourly is up to.
Tell us a bit about the history of your company?
We launched Neighbourly in 2014 to give local charities and community initiatives the tools to get noticed and to receive the support they need from a powerful network – a business community with the social purpose and know-how to join forces and to help.
Neighbourly was designed for businesses to take the lead in this, and we work with a growing number of responsible corporate partners such as M&S, Starbucks, HEINEKEN and The Body Shop. Businesses who are using Neighbourly to not only build capacity for their local communities but also to build capacity for their companies. Evidencing that doing good for society is good for business too - a truly sustainable way of working.
As of July 2016 just under £4 million, 12,000 volunteer days and 263 tonnes of food has been pledged through Neighbourly, and growing fast!
Why did you become a B Corp?
Neighbourly’s journey has been similar to many of today’s start-ups – an ambition to build a responsible, social enterprise that still has access to funding in order to scale. We planned to publish a Charter – and in the course of researching how businesses we admired were doing it we stumbled upon B Corps.
Being a B Corp is a core part of being Neighbourly. We joined the movement to work with others on the business case for a better way – one that puts people and planet first. It’s now accepted that business can do well by doing good and as proponents we need to talk with one voice to encourage others to follow us. The B Corp movement is already influencing global business and our collective impact will only grow. That’s fantastic.
What excites you about being part of the global B Corporation movement?
It’s the tremendous achievements and noise (the good kind) from B Corps that we’ve already seen in a relatively small space of time, and the potential that this community has to work together to really change things for business and for the world.
The B Corp movement recognises a shared purpose and encourages businesses to be brave in looking for innovative ways to work. The community is so diverse - every member has a new perspective, skill, idea to bring. Each B Corp on the ground has the power to activate change locally, but the movement brings global vision and drive.
B Corps is a movement that is about movement – it’s about taking action, real solutions to problems and ways to doing things well through business. But it’s about celebrating shared purpose too – and this is inspiring more and more companies to join in.
Can you tell us about the impact that your company is having in the world?
Neighbourly is a catalyst for change at the community level through local actions. Each grassroots action that happens through our network builds momentum towards a much larger movement - by demonstrating the impact of that action for community, public, employees, customers and businesses others are inspired to join in. Now more than ever communities need support from businesses who have the resources to help. So Neighbourly connects the two to build a meaningful relationship that is beneficial for both sides.
Neighbourly is about creating change in business too – companies are seeing that in order to continue to operate they must tackle the problems that surround the areas they serve - where their employees and customers live and work. These problems are limiting factors for business as well as for society and our network helps them to take action to tackle them in a collaborative and inclusive way.
What benefits have you seen since certification?
In life and in business there’s a huge difference between what you say and what you do. Everyone at Team Neighbourly wants to be sure they have permission to always do the right thing. Certification makes stated commitments real – and provides a framework and targets to keep pushing for.
It’s the same for partners and others we meet as we go about our business. The ‘B the Change’ badge immediately establishes our credentials and re-frames the conversation we’re about to have.
B Lab has created many opportunities to connect with some fantastic B Corps who we’re looking forward to working with in the future – there is great scope for collaboration within such an open minded network.
How did your other staff react to the certification?
Every individual at Neighbourly recognises they’ve found something quite special – a job where they can be their ‘whole self’ in their work without having to compromise their personal values. But there’s always more we can do to help our team be the best version of themselves in a way that works for the business too.
Certification was a large step down the road, and a catalyst to more ideas. We can’t do everything of course – we’re a young business working hard to hit our targets and become better known – but Certification confirms that the aspiration to be better is real and constant.
We have some fun with it too. The team love to call each other out for B Corp ‘violations’ – from a stray drinks bottle in the wrong bin to ungracious behaviour – they can all cost you at the next team night out!
What has changed in your organisation as a result of taking the B Impact Assessment?
Aside from all the internal and external considerations already mentioned, the Assessment and Certification has cemented our purpose at operational and Board level. B Corporation compliance and progress features regularly in Board meetings and is a key component of shareholder updates. Certification helps us live our values in a way that wouldn’t be possible without the responsibility we have to the badge, to others in the movement – and of course to the planet.
What does the year ahead hold in store for your company?
It’s already been a tremendous year – we were very proud to be named a Top 50 Bloomberg Business Innovator in February and since then a member of the Unilever Foundry 50, a Top 100 Disruptive Brand and last week a Tech4Good Award! I hope the rest of the year looks much the same…but perhaps most of all we’re very excited to be going global with expansion into 10 new territories planned …watch this space!
Who is your B Corp crush?
We like Badger Inc. at Neighbourly... Great to see the badge of B Corp Certification on their packaging - one of the first to be promoting their involvement in the movement B2C. They're also a company with 'Fun is Good' as a core value...!
It’s 2020, 5 years since you certified as a B Corp, what does the movement look like?
I think the movement will have a real influence in decision making on a global stage. More large corporate companies will seek certification (we should have a handful by 2020) as they realise that it’s not a ‘nice to have’ but that it’s essential to doing business well. This will largely be driven by changing consumer behaviour and the pressure they put on companies to do business in the right way.
What is inspiring you at the moment?
People are inspiring me right now. We’re living in troubled times but society seems to be finding it’s voice and purpose at a staggering rate. If the world has been passive and slow to act until now, I believe we’re finally at the tipping-point of citizen-lead change. Society has the social tools to organise itself for a sustainable future and the power to force business to change faster. B Corps help empowered people empower others… and the faster the better.