When good business meets good works

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Articles - October 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011

October is my favorite month, bringing cooler weather, pumpkins and the announcement of our 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon. It’s our third annual ranking and this year nearly 5,500 employees from 170 nonprofits and not-for-profits participated in the anonymous survey about their workplaces.

These organizations make up an important economic sector that employs hundreds of thousand of workers. More and more, nonprofits see the wisdom in good business practices, along with their good works, and how you treat your workforce is a key part of that. Despite the sometimes lower pay or reduced benefits, nonprofit employees find great satisfaction in their work when they operate in an environment of trust, respect, teamwork and opportunity. In that they are like practically every employee in any sector of the workforce.

We modeled our 100 Best Nonprofits project on our 100 Best Companies project, now in its 19th year. The survey for the 100 Best Companies is now open, and I encourage you to participate. It is an excellent way to find out what your workforce thinks. Go to Oregon100Best.com for details and to register, or email research editor Brandon Sawyer at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . It’s free, we’ve shortened the survey and you get back invaluable data. To participate you need only 15 Oregon employees  — and the desire to make your company a better place to work.

This issue also contains several other features relating to the intersection between good works and good business. In senior writer Linda Baker’s story, she explores the growing trend of the “Benefit Corporation,” or B Corp, a new class of corporation that “is tweaking the legal structures that define the modern-day corporation.” And for the third year in a row we’ve charted business involvement and support for nonprofits in our Input survey. This year’s survey of 620 Oregon business leaders shows support holding steady for nonprofits, with more companies encouraging workers to serve on nonprofit boards and earmarking a portion of their profits for charity.

I spent a large part of the summer reporting this issue’s cover story on Vernonia and found there other collaborations that blurred boundaries. Private citizens, business, philanthropy and government have come together to build a new school and hopefully a new future for the flood-ravaged town, where four years ago a crossroads became a turning point.

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