Top Companies 2014: Working with Purpose
Nonprofit Business Winners
Make no mistake, the basis for business is to make money. That hasn’t changed since the dawn of capitalism. But increasingly, companies that rise to the top have been driven by something more: a greater purpose — whether it’s providing jobs, improving lives, protecting the environment, fostering stronger human connections or some alternative higher aim — and the money has followed.
That much was evident from the nominations submitted for ColoradoBiz magazine’s 27th annual Top Company Awards, arguably Colorado’s most competitive and rigorously judged program of its kind. (See the complete list of winners and finalists.)
“The thing that really jumped out at me is, [the Top Company winners] are more givers than takers,” said Sean Nohavec, senior vice president of business development at UMB Bank in Colorado and one of this year’s Top Company panel participants. “They’re people and companies who are very involved in the community. When people care, that’s what separates them.”
In fact, a recent Deloitte study validated that organizations that work toward more than merely profit perform better than those without a “culture of purpose.” The survey, which sampled 1,310 American adults, found that 90 percent of individuals who believe their organizations maintain a strong sense of purpose also reported strong financial showings over the past year.
While countless businesses start up every year, only the strong survive and only the strongest surpass their peers and competitors to make it to the top. For the last 27 years, through economic rough patches and sweet spots, ColoradoBiz has sought to recognzie companies in the state that work harder, better and quicker than the rest.
This year, we combined our finalist and winner coverage, with three finalists from each of the 13 industry categories, and one winner selected from each of those.
Nonprofit winner: Colorado Enterprise Fund
While the sexiness and sensationalism of startups is often what’s most publicly highlighted, Colorado Enterprise Fund has extended its mission-driven financing to businesses that fit “outside the box” of traditional lending criteria since 1976, largely serving low-income, minority and other under-served entrepreneurs.
The nonprofit is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDIF) dedicated to fostering economic development, regardless of hopeful-entrepreneurs’ social or economic backgrounds. In addition to providing loan capital, CEF supports its borrowers with business mentorships to help build their management capacity and come closer to a guarantee of success. Since 1990, the organization has made nearly 1,440 loans, coming in at right around $33 million and providing 8,400 hours of professional counseling. In the last three years, borrowers have had a loan repayment rate of more than 97 percent.
CEF is in the thick of a three-year strategic plan that includes expanding its asset base, increasing the size of its loan portfolio, making more loans annually and enhancing its community visibility. The nonprofit has partnered with Rocky Mountain Innosphere, a business accelerator in Fort Collins to help its client companies and expand its footprint into new parts of the state.
The Home Front Cares
Since 2003, The Home Front Cares has provided quick emergency financial grants to save veterans from homelessness and pay other essential life expenses. The organization sustains a statewide reach thanks to its network of partnerships and referrals through military organizations such as the Veterans Administration, Rocky Mountain Human Services and others. THFC’s competitive attractiveness to donors and agencies lies both in its speedy response time and careful vetting process with clients, which the nonprofit does not pay directly, but instead writes checks to the organizations and entities they must pay. This year, THFC will surpass $1 million raised for the first time. Serving Colorado with a staff of five, THFC has provided grants to more than 320 clients and referral services to more than 800 people in 2014.
Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver
Habitat for Humanity has built and repaired homes throughout the metro area for 35 years, standing out among other nonprofits for its ability to provide homeownership to a low-income population. Habitat for Humanity is recognized by the EPA as one of the most energy-efficient homebuilders in the state, providing permanent, quality, energy-efficient housing, for more than 2,000 adults and children. Last year, Habitat Denver was selected from the organization’s more than 1,500 affiliates to host the 30th Annual Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, dedicating a week to build 11 new townhomes and repair 15 existing homes in Denver’s Globeville neighborhood.