Net Impact

Net Impact
Net Impact
Type Non-Profit
Founded 1993
Headquarters San Francisco, CA
Key people Liz Maw, Executive Director
Revenue $1.037 million USD [1]

Net Impact is a nonprofit membership organization for students and professionals interested in using business skills in support of various social and environmental causes. It serves both a professional organization and one of the largest student organizations among MBAs in the world. [1] From its central office in San Francisco, the organization supports over 200 autonomous volunteer-run chapters and a membership base of over 10,000, with programs and networking events centered on topics such as corporate social responsibility, social entrepreneurship, nonprofit management, international development, and environmental sustainability.


Historical background

Net Impact was founded in 1993 as Students for Responsible Business (SRB). Its inaugural conference was convened by 13 graduate business students in collaboration with Dr. Mark Albion and a handful of members of Social Venture Network, an organization that has been a launching pad for several other organizations within the business and society movement. [2] The organization grew steadily in its first few years as an organization exclusively for graduate students.

Beginning in 1998, a professional network of SRB alumni began to form. The organization was renamed Net Impact in 1999 in part to accommodate a shift toward inclusion of professional MBA graduates. [3] The first professional chapter was launched in San Francisco in 2001, and in 2008 professionals made up 44% of all dues-paying members, and 23% of chapters.

In 2007, an undergraduate pilot program was initiated, growing to 34 undergraduate chapters by early-2009.

While the bulk of Net Impact’s activity has been focused in the United States, international chapters began as early as 1997 at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France. The inaugural European conference was held in Geneva, Switzerland in June, 2008 in partnership with HEC Geneva IOMBA, INSEAD and the University of Nottingham [4]. As of 2008 there were 40 student and professional chapters located outside the United States, on six continents.

Between 2004 and 2008, under the leadership of Executive Director Liz Maw, the organization increased its paid membership nearly fivefold, in keeping with a growth trend that has been identified among MBAs and society at large toward interest in responsible business practices [5].



GE CEO Jeff Immelt was the keynote speaker at the 2009 Net Impact Conference at Cornell's Johnson School.

Net Impact’s most familiar program is its annual (North America) Conference, which takes place in partnership with a prestigious business school every year in autumn. Conferences are well attended (over 2000 attendees in 2008) and feature inspirational speeches by business leaders who personify corporate responsibility and the social contributions of successful businesses. [2] Net Impact’s North American Conferences have been located at:

Past keynote speakers at the conference have included Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia; Tensie Whelan, Executive Director of the Rainforest Alliance; Chad Holliday, CEO of DuPont; Honorable Al Gore, Chairman of Generation Investment Management and former Vice President of the United States; Tom Chappell, CEO and Founder of Tom's of Maine; Gary Erickson, CEO of Clif Bar, Inc.; and Orin Smith, President and CEO of Starbucks Coffee Company.


Net Impact produces an annual guide to graduate business programs titled Business as UNusual, soliciting the help of its chapters to report on how far sustainability is integrated into over 50 top-tier business schools, for the benefit of prospective students. Since 1996, It also has produced studies of the opinions of graduate and undergraduate students on the role business should play in society; a Social Impact Career Handbook for individuals interested in learning about possible career tracks using business and social responsibility; and the CSR Jobs Report, in partnership with Ellen Weinreb CSR Recruiting, analyzing the market for CSR jobs as well as jobs within socially responsible companies.

Other Programs

Through its chapters, events and online career center, Net Impact provides members with an array of opportunities for networking and finding a job that meets both their material and ideological requirements. For professionals, the organization also offers the Impact at Work program to help members change their companies’ practices from within. [7] Programs under the umbrella of Nonprofit Capacity Building, such as Board Fellows and Service Corps, support members interested in volunteering for nonprofits on a pro bono basis and gaining key experience in the process.

At universities, Net Impact supports both campus greening and curriculum change initiatives that its members are engaged in, and its annual Green Challenge, open to students and professionals alike, serves to catalyze the sustainability movement among business students and create effective plans for environmental improvements. [8] Thomas Robertson, Dean of the Wharton School, cited Net Impact activities at Wharton as evidence in an article where he claimed, “Social responsibility is no longer relegated to the relatively small percentage of students who seek to work in the nonprofit sector. It has become integrated into our way of thinking in business education and in the coming years needs to be further developed.” [9]

See also


  1. ^ Vogel, David. The Market for Virtue: The Potential and Limits of Corporate Social Responsibility Brookings Institution Press, 2004
  2. ^ a b Hollender, Jeffrey and Stephen Finchell, What Matters Most: How a Small Group of Pioneers Is Teaching Social Responsibility to Big Business, and Why Big Business Is Listening, Basic Books, 2004
  3. ^ ”Naming the Future” Leading Business, Net Impact, Fall 1999
  4. ^ Zaidman, Yasmina “Net Impact Europe: Can Business Make a Positive Difference?” Acumen Fund Blog, <> 2008-06-24, retrieved 2008-08-22
  5. ^ “CSR Jobs Rank High for Newly Minted MBAs: Report” GreenBiz <> 2008-01-16, retrieved 2008-08-22
  6. ^ "Jeff Immelt at Net Impact 2009". Cornell University. Retrieved 2009-11-10. 
  7. ^ Schutt, Melanie. “Do Green MBAs Get Green Jobs?” Sustainable Industries, <> 2008-04-04, retrieved 2008-08-22
  8. ^ Rupe Eubanks, Michelle “A Campus Going Green”, <> 2008-07-07, retrieved 2008-08-22
  9. ^ Robertson, Thomas. “Schools aspire to be forces for social good” Financial Times <> 2008-01-28, retrieved 2008-08-22

External links

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