Long before “sustainability” and “corporate responsibility” became buzz words, Sean Marx and Mike Hannigan brainstormed a way to merge their business savvy with their desire to give back. Already partners in the office supply world, the "Aha! Moment" came as Mike cooked dinner one night. Opening a jar of Newman's Own spaghetti sauce, he thought, "Hey if Paul Newman can do it, so can we!"
As a result of their ideals and collaboration they have given millions to local nonprofits since 1991.
Sean Marx began his career in 1988 as a territory sales representative for Ricoh copiers in San Francisco. He quickly became a top performer and was promoted to sales management. Soon after, he was approached by Mike Hannigan with the idea of starting Give Something Back.
Says Marx, “As a sales manager, I was very successful financially, but I was disillusioned with the priorities of my peers. Focus on material wealth and a lack of concern for world problems did not fit with my upbringing."
Mike Hannigan began work for Xerox and built his career in management of business products companies for the next decade.
Says Hannigan, "I was active in the usual social movements of the late '60s and '70s, and although I was very successful as a businessperson, I was never really comfortable in that role and never happy unless I was involved in some type of community political activism.”
Hannigan and Marx formed a company that combined their business skills and their values. They saw an opportunity to use the power of business to further the goals of community service through funding non-profit organizations.
Give Something Back benefited from a nearly $3 million 504 loan from TMC Financing in 2005 to purchase and improve their office space. Hannigan and Marx found out about the loan program through their commercial real estate broker.
Over the past 23 years, Give Something Back has donated over $6 million dollars in profits back to local nonprofits while offering competitive prices and superior service.
Give Something Back does not have a traditional brick and mortar location but sells exclusively online. The online store has thousands of products across office needs categories: supplies, furniture, custom printing, break room and more. Product selection and cost are competitive with the big box stores.
Each purchase helps to support dozens of organizations who receive the majority of Give Something Back’s profits, to support their work in their communities. Give Something Back’s customers get to vote for their favorite nonprofits amongst a pre-vetted list each year. Each customer votes through an online ballot for some of their favorite nonprofits.
They have donated an average of 73% of their after-tax profits to local nonprofit organizations that work in the areas of art & culture, environment, animal welfare and human services.
Give Something Back was chosen as Northern California’s Small Business of the Year in 2005 in large part because of their self-declared purpose: “We exist to improve the quality of life in our communities. We do this by serving and delighting our customers, giving time and profits to our community, growing employees and helping them realize their full potential, and leading others by inspiring them to give, serve, and grow.”