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ASBC & SVN Merge

American Sustainable Business Council and Social Venture Circle Merge, Becoming the Leading Socially Responsible Business Organization in the U.S.

The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) and Social Venture Circle (SVC) announced today the finalization of their merger following a year-long strategic alliance during which the two collaborated closely to assess its benefits and impact. Collectively, the American Sustainable Business Network (ASBN, a 501 C3), as the new organization will be known, will realize many of the anticipated benefits both organizations experienced during the past year of alignment, and also some unexpected ones, in pursuit of creating the leading socially responsible business group in the U.S. The resulting collaboration will retain all staff, is a powerful force for environmental change, and social and economic justice at the federal, state, and local levels, and will feature a new logo.

The past 14 months of the strategic alliance have shown that by combining membership efforts, membership growth outpaced prior trends by more than 100 percent. The combined organization will be stronger, more resilient, and better able to thrive in challenging economic times. Other key benefits identified include:

  • The combined board of directors brings even more expertise to support the organization’s visions, deeper expertise in operationalizing commitments to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, and a larger shared network create opportunities for collective aims.
  • ASBC and SVC have each found the strategic alliance to be fruitful and productive, and a formal merger will realize — through economies of scale — accelerated growth along with increased member benefits, and a streamlined member experience.
  • The size and quality of the combined membership improves the value proposition to prospective members, foundations, and sponsors, enabling revenue growth and organizational stability.
  • Each organization has unique capabilities, such as the annual SVC conference and event planning, and pitch events, and ASBC’s media communications and coalition building. A merger allows the combined organization to more fully deploy these capabilities for the benefit of the missions of both organizations and do even more for members and other stakeholders.
  • The new organization will save money and be more time efficient as there are several places where each organization had duplicate work areas that will be combined in the single entity such as web management, marketing, social media, development of webinars, and accounting.

“The mission of SVC has been to pull together money, expertise, and connections for the investor community to create a better economy—for our society and the environment—in a powerful, diverse, and inclusive network,” said Isaac Graves, former executive director of SVC and now COO of ASBN. “SVC’s purpose has been to lead the way for impact businesses, investors, entrepreneurs, and capacity-builders and catalyze the NEXT economy; a global economy that is regenerative, just, and prosperous for everyone. Now as part of ASBN we continue to believe justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion must be at the foundation for how we conduct ourselves, our businesses, and our investments, as we cultivate and grow our community.”

“ASBC has partnered with business organizations and companies to advocate for solutions and policies that support an equitable, sustainable, just economy. We have been a multi-issue, membership organization advocating on behalf of all sectors, sizes, and geographies of industry,” said Jeffrey Hollender, co-founder and CEO of ASBC and now CEO and board chair of ASBN. “ASBC and its association members collectively represent over 250,000 businesses across our networks. Now as part of ASBN we continue to be coalition-focused in our innovative approach to solving pervasive and systemic issues via public policy and changing the rules of business. And with more impact investors and asset allocators in the network, we are in a better position to inform our policy work.”

“The issues on which ASBN works are climate and energy, infrastructure, circular economy including safer chemicals, and racial and economic equity, and protecting our democracy to create an economy and society in service of all stakeholders, not just shareholders. Investors now have a clear option through which to engage and inform policy governing the rules by which business is done so it is better for all people and the environment as well as our economy,” said David Levine, formerly co-founder and president of ASBC, and now president of ASBN.

Commenting together, Graves, Hollender and Levine said, “The combined organizations need the strengths of one another to accelerate their respective missions and increase their power and influence. They share the same values and will operate more effectively and efficiently together than separately.”

Given the strength and unique identity of each brand individually, the new organization will use the strongest aspects of each organization’s history, and in the case of SVC recognizing the organization’s origin as Social Venture Network. ASBN will incorporate aspects of each visual brand, and will implement usage of the new logo during the fourth quarter of 2021.

Although it is not widely known, SVC and ASBC have a long-shared history. Established in 1987, what evolved to become SVC was one of the nation’s first and most influential peer organizations dedicated to demonstrating the ‘triple bottom line’ potential of valuing people, planet, and profit on equal footing. Through yearly gatherings, peer circles, and structured mentoring, SVC has provided inspiration for new ventures and helped incubate other key contributors to the social venture community including ASBC in 2009. ASBC was created to focus on an area of work that was not addressed by SVC but critically important to achieving its mission: public policy that requires change to realize a sustainable and just economy.  Other notable organizations incubated by SVC include Businesses for Social Responsibility (BSR), Common Future, Net Impact, Investors’ Circle and B Lab. SVC and ASBC were born of the same entrepreneurial spirit and despite becoming independent organizations, the connection and mutual respect between the two remained strong.

“The world desperately needs profound economic and public policy change, and we believe ASBN has a uniquely potent ability to build a large-scale movement to make that possible,” said David Levine. “Business-as-usual has fueled the crises our world is facing and time is running out; now is the time to act to ensure a just and sustainable future. We are stronger as part of an alliance, and the ability to unify our teams, processes, and strategy gives us the added strength needed to accomplish our mandate to create an economy that works for all: one that is regenerative, equitable, and creates shared prosperity through our businesses, investments, public policies, and activities.”

The resulting American Sustainable Business Network is now one of the most powerful entities to represent and advocate on behalf of a new form of capitalism which rejects a sole focus on short-term profits in favor of seeking long-term value and accounting for all stakeholders: owners, workers, families, community, environment, state, nation, and world.

Legal and operational details are expected to be finalized by December, in which case the merger will be effective January 1, 2022. Aside from the approval from the Boards of each organization, which has already been agreed to, no additional approvals are required.

Key takeaways:

  • ASBN is stronger and more impactful than its combined organizations individually and has the ability together to build movements of change.
  • The combined entities have shown during the past year they are highly compatible and work better together than apart, and this will amplify and extend the voice of responsible business leaders and companies.
  • ASBN rejects short-term thinking narrowly focused on just shareholder value and the daily gyrations of the stock market in favor of a capitalism based on creating long-term value and being accountable to all stakeholders: owners, workers, families, community, environment, state, nation and world.
  • The world desperately needs profound economic and public policy change, and ASBN has a uniquely potent ability to build a larger-scale movement to make that possible.
  • Business-as-usual has fueled the crises our world is facing and time is running out; now is the time to act to ensure a just and sustainable future.
  • Unifying the teams of what is now ASBC and its processes and strategy will give it the added strength needed to accomplish the mandate to create an economy that works for all: one that is regenerative, equitable, and creates shared prosperity through our businesses, investments, and activities.

ASBN will take the shared membership program and streamline it while opening the benefits previously available to each organization individually to the full combined membership. The existing member benefits and services will remain intact and will leverage economies of scale to offer more benefits to members going forward. No adjustments to dues are expected as a result of the merger.

ASBC and SVC will continue to exist as separate legal entities that will be managed by an umbrella organization, ASBN, that will employ staff, appoint the boards, and set priorities, budget, planning, etc. for the combined entity. The umbrella board will be initially composed of representatives from SVC and ASBC, and going forward the board will be selected without regard to prior affiliation. The bylaws of all the organizations are being revised and conformed so they work together seamlessly. An Executive Committee and other committees to carry out specific governing and planning tasks will be appointed shortly.

This article was produced in collaboration with the Magazine's Content Partners.

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