The 2020 Common Good Awards
These four local businesses inspire philanthropy in their employees around the state.
Winner, micro category: 9 employees or less
Location: Cranston, prisere.com
Prisere is a consulting firm with expertise in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation strategies.
Rhode Islanders are serious about climate change, and so is Prisere. The consulting firm, founded by Donna R. Childs, provides businesses with high-level risk tools — including software apps, risk mapping and risk communications — to increase their resiliency in the face of climate-related disaster.
The work has never been more vital: One estimate suggests 40 percent of small businesses affected by disaster never recover. Prisere’s clients have included Pitney Bowes, Comcast Business Services and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, and Childs authored the book, Prepare for the Worst, Plan for the Best: Disaster Preparedness and Recovery for Small Businesses, to share her expertise with other entrepreneurs.
But climate change affects all organizations, especially in the Ocean State, and Prisere’s commitment to the little guys earned high praise from the Common Good panel of judges. Case in point: Prisere has offered pro-bono services to Rhode Island Interfaith Power and Light, a nonprofit that works with houses of worship to raise awareness about climate change, energy conservation and sustainable living. The company has also helped a local music school, an important cause to Prisere as music education is correlated with success in STEM fields.
Common Good judges noted how Prisere “tailored its strengths to help others” and “its focus on small business stood out.” The firm helped organize the state’s first business preparedness conference and launched a free online disaster resilience program for all small businesses in Rhode Island. But the company’s altruism shines brightest in the Giving Circle, a free networking group of small business owners who gather for presentations from guest speakers with expertise in philanthropy. The Prisere team hopes the volunteerism bug is contagious — and we do, too.
Did you know: The name “Prisere” is a partial anagram of “vesper iris,” a resilient flower that thrives in all climates and blooms in the absence of sunlight. Prisere is a certified woman-owned business by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.
How to Give Wisely
- Here are helpful tips for savvy giving from GuideStar, one of the world’s largest sources of information on nonprofit organizations:
- Before giving, ask yourself what philanthropic areas are important to you.
- Do you want to help the environment, animal welfare, sick kids, for example?
- Do you want to support a local charity or one with national reach? A new charity or one that’s been around for years?
- Read each charity’s mission statement and description carefully. You can learn a lot from its website.
- Does the charity have measurable goals?
- Is the charity legit? GuideStar offers free basic searches that include info such as the organization’s annual tax returns and whether the IRS recognizes it as tax exempt.
- Does it spell out specific ways to assess its success? How high are its operating costs?
- Avoid charities that use high pressure tactics.
- Trust your instincts; if you don’t feel comfortable with what you’re learning about it, look for another charity doing similar work.