Businesses Try to Make Money and Save
The New York Times
By STEPHANIE STROM
Published: May 6, 2007
ALTRUSHARE SECURITIES is a brokerage firm, engaged in the sort
of things you might expect of a Wall Street outfit, like buying and
selling stock, and providing research on companies. Unlike its peers,
however, the firm is majority-owned by two charities that each control
about one-third of it.
Caleb Kenna for The New York Times
Cathy Berry is an angel investor in Farmers Diner in Quechee, Vt., run by Tod Murphy, left. The
diner gets most of its ingredients locally.
So is it a for-profit business? Or a nonprofit fund-raising machine?
In fact, like hundreds of new businesses starting up around the
country, it is both. Altrushare is an example of the emerging
convergence of for-profit money-making and nonprofit mission.
The practice is even creeping into corporate bluebloods like General
Electric, whose $12 billion Ecomagination business promotes its
products’ minimal environmental impact as well as their positive
impact on the bottom line.
“We’re a for-profit institutional brokerage, and we have to compete on
execution and commissions and do so with the same technology and
talent you would expect from a top-tier firm,” said Peter Drasher, a
founder of Altrushare, which is based in Bridgeport, Conn. “What
makes us different is our nonprofit ownership and our mission, which
is to support struggling communities with our profits.”
The nonprofit sector is also part of the movement. Motivated by
growing competition to attract donor dollars, charities are going
beyond longstanding practices. Some are adopting innovative
investment strategies or owning other ventures outright.
“I think what people are increasingly looking for, whether in the for-
profit or nonprofit sector, is how you harness the vitality and promise
of capitalism in a way that’s more fair to everyone,” said Juliana
Eades, the president of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, a