Cole Ryan cofounded Hedrick, a Wilmington-based brand strategy and design firm, about two years ago, with a mission to create world-class branding for nonprofits.
“I’m from the nonprofit space,” said 24-year-old Ryan, who founded the firm with his wife, Samantha Ryan, an illustrator and designer. “What I noticed pretty quickly is that there are not as many resources for [nonprofits and non-governmental organizations] as there are for for-profit startups. The reasoning, of course, is that there’s not as much money to be made. So that is why I started Hedrick.”
The small team of four takes on clients from all over, including Anthology Lancaster and Boston Cares.
“In February it occurred to me that a lot of these nonprofits I work for are doing great work, but they’re not able to find the same amount of talent that for-profit startups are,” said Ryan. “And I don’t think it’s for a lack of interest — they don’t have as much exposure, awareness, they don’t really have that cool factor a lot of the time.”
That led to the concept of Cause.Work, a platform for nonprofits and social ventures that helps organizations find talent that fits their ethical standards, and helps talent find organizations that align with their values.
So, for example, if you’re committed to environmental causes, you can be assured that companies on Cause.Work are either actively working to improve the environment — or at least, are not actively harming it.
What sets Cause.Work apart, Ryan said, is what the org tentatively calls “Our Standards,” a grading system inspired by the ethical criteria used on the German job-seeking platform tbd*.
Nonprofits and companies will be graded as green, yellow or red:
- Green companies include charity and humanitarian nonprofits, B corporations, nonprofit education and companies that make renewable energy
- Yellow companies include ethical consumer brands that don’t actively cause harm and for-profit health and education organizations
- Red would include things like tobacco and fossil fuel companies that cause harm to health and/or the environment
While the specifics of each level are still being worked out, companies rated red won’t be allowed to list on Cause.Work. Yellow companies will, with the ratings explained for job seekers.
Initially Cause.Work was going to roll out its beta in the spring. Then COVID-19 hit.
“I had sidelined it for a while, [reasoning that] with everyone losing their jobs, it wouldn’t really make sense to launch,” Ryan said. “Then it occurred to me about two months ago that a bunch of brands and nonprofits were starting to hire again, and I read a stat in the New York Times that more people are looking for jobs right now than ever in recent history. I thought OK, maybe now is the perfect time to launch it.”
Cause.Work will launch in beta on Monday, July 20. Both employers and talent will be able to use the platform, which will be tweaked and tightened for its hard launch, planned for September.
In addition to full-time and part-time jobs, the platform will feature listings for freelance and contract gigs.
While it will start out as a job board, the long-term vision is for Cause.Work is to become a hub for nonprofits and social ventures, where they can go to find everything from volunteers to funding, Ryan said: “We want it to be similar to what AngelList is for startups.”
To sign up for the waiting list, go to cause.work.-30-