Encircle is a non-profit organization created to bring families and communities together to empower LGBTQ youth to thrive. “Encircle’s success is based on the incredible generosity of individuals and corporations to accomplish this mission,” says Larsen.
“Where the purpose of business is profit; The goals of nonprofit organizations are to solve difficult societal problems. Both are essential for thriving communities. Nonprofit organizations cannot fulfill their missions without the generosity and commitment of philanthropy,” says Larsen. Collaboration between for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations can allow philanthropic giving to reach its maximum potential.
Clarke thinks Utah’s for-profit companies can also benefit from fostering a culture of philanthropy early on, pointing to the success of a number of the state’s business leaders who led their companies with philanthropy as a core value. “We’ve all watched the legendary generosity of the Eccles, Millers and Huntsmans for decades, but it’s important to note that it doesn’t take a generations-old family foundation to do good. The next generation can and should give as our businesses grow,” says Clarke.
For proof of Clarke’s first theory of philanthropy, look no further than Utah. 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 could be a force for good in the world was central to its brand proposition.
David Smith, founder and CEO of Cotopaxi, attributes the company’s success to his deep commitment to giving back. “During the first five years of Cotopaxi’s history, we gave away more money than we earned. It took a lot of courage and faith to put our purpose and mission ahead of profits,” Smith says.
Cotopaxi uses a holistic approach to fighting poverty by dedicating a percentage of its revenue to anti-poverty efforts, skill-based volunteering, and product donations. Last year, they helped nearly 1.3 million people living in poverty through their Cotopaxi Foundation. The company is also Climate Neutral certified, a member of 1% for the Planet, and was recently backed by Bain Capital Double Impact, Bain Capital’s $1.2 billion impact fund.
“As I reflect on what has made Cotopaxi so successful, we believe it is the brave the optimism of ordinary people who choose to support responsible capitalism. The future of capitalism will involve consumers and employees giving their time and money to companies that are deeply committed to their communities, protecting our planet and putting stakeholders before profits. Ultimately, I am convinced that doing good and doing well are not mutually exclusive, in fact, they will be inextricably linked as we work to create a better version of capitalism,” Smith says.
The value of philanthropy is well recognized by business leaders across the state. This recognition has contributed significantly to Utah’s charitable reputation. “For a business community to thrive, it is absolutely essential that philanthropy and service be priorities,” 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 around the state for his generous giving. “Support worthy causes, including scholarships and programs at Utah Valley University, fight abuse with Sapreadonating to homeless initiatives and elevating women in tech with Tech-Moms will continue to be an important part of my personal mission. I am personally grateful for the opportunities I have to give back and join others, working together to uplift our community,” says Fugal.
Recently, Clarke returned to Clearlink, a company he started over 20 years ago, sold over 10 years ago and repurchased in 2021. Recognizing the importance of corporate-led philanthropy in the State, Clarke is eager to see the business grow. about his giving story. To grow Clearlink’s corporate responsibility footprint 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 within all Clearlink employee communities, enabling Clearlinkers to engage with their neighborhoods in a way that reflects their passion for show up for others and give of their time and talent. Clearlink Causes aims to enable Clearlink employees to generate dollars towards the organizations that have the greatest impact on their lives and communities, as Clearlink will provide a 1:1 donation, up to $1,000 per employee per year . This initiative was launched 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, whether small or established, should prioritize philanthropy both as a tool for growth and as a goal to strive towards, Clarke says. It demonstrably strengthens communities and businesses and helps build a better Utah.