Besa fills a unique role to expand community service

So far, Besa has been able to grow with a diversified revenue stream of individual donors, grants and corporate support. Corporate support includes working with Columbus corporations to improve employee engagement in philanthropy.

For example, anytime Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream’s 600 employees want to volunteer, they do it through Besa with projects like painting a mural or putting on an ice cream social and learning lab at Saint Stephens Community House, Goldstein says.

“That way they can focus on what they do great, making incredible ice cream, and then we can focus on what we do great, which is engaging their associates in these volunteer opportunities,” he says.

Besa’s partnership with Express, another client, has already enhanced the culture of the company. In 2015, Express employees participated in 1,800 volunteer hours; that grew to more than 3,000 in 2016, Goldstein says.

“Some of the companies we work with, we’re seeing their employees are three times more engaged with Besa in place than before,” he says.

Capture data to tell your story

But the needs of companies go beyond engagement, Goldstein says. It goes to grant administration as well as just managing how employees sign up and track their volunteerism.

“Companies want to tell their story of their impact in the community, and a lot of times, they don’t have the data to tell that story,” he says.

Goldstein hopes a software application called Besa Promise will not only help companies more efficiently manage philanthropy and volunteer programs, but also enable Besa to take its next step in growth.

With Besa Promise, employees can independently sign up and track their activities through the platform. And on the back end, administrators can collect, understand and bisect the data, to better know the company’s story and impact in the community.

Besa wants to sell the software to use the revenue as a social enterprise vehicle to expand in Columbus and to other cities. It might also look into more than one-time projects as it grows.

“People want these authentic experiences,” Goldstein says. “You look around at the world, and I think you can get depressed pretty easily when you turn on the TV. But at the same time, there’s a spark in all of us that we want to be engaged in the solution.

“It’s just finding out how to connect on the ground, in our communities to make a difference.”