What Being an Evergreen Company Means to Association Management
In today's economy, venture capital aggressively incentivizes entrepreneurs to scale for a quick exit. That impulse often stifles innovation and creates mediocre businesses that do not reach their full potential for good in society. A new movement is emerging as an alternative, led by entrepreneurs calling themselves "Evergreen." They characterize their businesses as "purpose-driven" and built for long-term sustainability. Aptify is one growing tree in that Evergreen forest.
What Evergreen Certification Means
The Tugboat Institute accredited Aptify as an official Certified Evergreen Company in 2016. Founded in 2014, the Tugboat Institute is a networking and accreditation association for businesses on the Evergreen path. Tugboat defines Evergreen as:
Evergreen businesses are led by purpose-driven leaders with the grit and resourcefulness to build and scale private, profitable, enduring, and market-leading businesses that make a dent in the universe. Evergreen businesses put their people first and avoid raising capital that puts money before mission and imposes a growth-at-all-costs or exit-oriented mindset. They measure success by how well they deliver on their mission and they embody the Evergreen 7Ps.
A Certified Evergreen Company operates with 7Ps. (Summaries below, but for the full definitions visit the Tugboat Institute.)
- Purpose - mission-driven
- Perseverance - resilience for the long-run
- People First - talented team-players motivated by mission
- Private - more flexibility inside a long-term view
- Profit - the measure of customer value delivered
- Paced Growth - Consistency, not gimmicks
- Pragmatic Innovation - Continuous improvement
Evergreen company leaders think about the next 100 years of service, not an upcoming IPO. Jason Fried, founder of project management company Basecamp, opined:
"When you take money, you're typically setting the stage to get out. It's about multiples and math at that point. It's not about product. It's not about customers. It's just about growth … a perverted sense of what business is about. Business to me is about making something great, treating your employees great, treating your customers great, adding something good to the world that wasn't there before."
What's in Evergreen for Associations?
By definition, an association cannot become a Certified Evergreen Company. However, Evergreen's alignment of business around mission and long-term impact are a for-profit echo of the best of what associations do. Keep focusing on the factors of association success and changing the world!
When it is time for new software, your association should look for a mission-driven partner with a similar long-term commitment. Aptify actively embodies every element of Evergreen—we even make our team's 2019 Painted Picture public for everyone to read. With so much private equity/venture capital pouring into other tech companies in the association space, Aptify is a breath of fresh air through the evergreen.
Aptify, a Certified Evergreen Company
Our Core Purpose is "Changing the World, One Client Mission at a Time."
We devote ourselves to serving one market—membership organizations. That attention enables deep support—strategic business analysis and consulting, multi-level training, and a close-knit user community.
We are a privately held company, with no outside investors or debts. We focus on growing a successful and long-term organization for our clients and staff. Our 98.5% customer retention rate validates the Evergreen tenet that neither the success of an organization’s people nor its mission should ever be compromised for the sake of outside equity.
Evergreen: The In-Depth Reading
For a deeper walk into the Evergreen forest, I highly recommend the following resources:
"The Evergreen Movement" Manifesto - Tugboat Institute
"In It For The Long Haul: Why I Believe in Evergreen" - Evergreen Journal
"The Challenge to Change: It's Time to Reconsider New Models of Success" - Evergreen Journal
About Tony Cavicchi
As the Inbound Marketing Manager at Aptify, Tony delivers content aligned to answer organizations’ needs and show how an Aptify AMS will help them better achieve their missions. He knows many challenges faced by the association market firsthand after running digital marketing for three years at HSLDA, an Aptify client. Tony was a political science major, so he’s still a bit of a nerd and follows election news around the world like sports championships.