Lindsey Kneuven, Chief Impact Officer at venture-backed Cotopaxi, recently told me, “Businesses can be a force for immense good; let’s ensure they do good well.”
At the moment, she’s focused on making sure that Cotopaxi does good well. The social enterprise is scaling quickly and her role is to ensure that they don’t lose focus on the targeted impact.
Lindsey brings valuable experience to Cotopaxi, having spent time with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation helping some of the area’s largest companies with their corporate philanthropy. She is concerned that startups today need to become more disciplined to have the impact they want.
She asks, “As more young companies build models that integrate their social and environmental goals, how do we create a movement to ensure that they are leveraging best practices from the development sector? How we capitalize on the enthusiasm for social impact in a way that ensure models are informed, that effective solutions/interventions are prioritized, builds on the collective impact model, and prevents the dilution of donor dollars?”
The type of legal structure a company uses has an impact on its ability and commitment to having an impact. “Cotopaxi incorporated as a Benefit Corporation and was the first company to take this structure and then receive venture funding. We are committed to infusing social impact and sustainability into all aspects of our work. This takes shape in our giving, our employee engagement, our supply chain, our operations and our design and development philosophy,” she says.
One of the challenges she faces in her work at Cotopaxi is dealing with the rapidly changing context of her work. With rapid changes in supply chain, for instance, she must quickly react to ensure that each supplier meets the company’s impact standards, stretching her capacity.
The limitations of scale inherent in one company’s trying to change the world are overcome by exporting the model for impact to other companies, she says. “Our model has incredible potential for adoption and replication. We hope to overcome any limitations by sharing our model, helping to coach other companies on how to integrate a model in a sustainable and scalable way.”
Lindsey is committed to applying data-driven principles and a collective impact approach to Cotopaxi’s social good mission. The goal: do good well.
On Thursday, June 30, 2016 at 4:00 Eastern, Lindsey will join me here for a live discussion about her strategy for driving the greatest possible impact at Cotopaxi. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about Cotopaxi:
Cotopaxi creates innovative outdoor products and experiences that fund sustainable poverty alleviation, move people to do good, and inspire adventure.
Cotopaxi funds solutions that address the most persistent needs of those living in extreme poverty. Giving is core to our model. As a Delaware Public Benefit Corporation, Cotopaxi has made a commitment to creating positive social impact. We focus our efforts on global poverty alleviation & give targeted grants to advance health, education, and livelihoods initiatives around the world.
Lindsey Kneuven is the Chief Impact Officer for Cotopaxi, a Utah-based outdoor gear company with a social mission at its core. She leads the organization’s global philanthropic strategy which includes all giving, supply chain initiatives, and employee engagement. Recently recognized by Utah Business as one of 30 Women to Watch for her leadership in business and the community, Lindsey serves on the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Commission on Community Engagement and is active on several nonprofit boards. Lindsey formerly directed global grant making, strategic planning, and large-scale employee engagement programs for a portfolio of seven corporations, including: Oracle, Juniper Networks and Singularity University at Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF). She also led the organization’s work on human trafficking and wrote a grant-funded white paper on human trafficking in Silicon Valley that earned her the Leigh Stillwell Award for Excellence. SVCF is a comprehensive center for philanthropy, serving both individual and corporate donors. With over $7.3 billion in assets under management and over $823 million granted in 2015 alone, SVCF is the largest community foundation in the world. Lindsey also has extensive experience in international development and nonprofit management, having spent a number of years working in East Africa to develop and implement a primary school literacy model with Nuru International as their Senior Education Program Director. Before Nuru, Lindsey served as the Global Grants Manager for the Salesforce Foundation where she oversaw the strategy, programming and success of multi-million dollar granting initiatives for four years. She has been active in international and domestic poverty alleviation initiatives for 15 years.
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Devin is a journalist, author and speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!