Ep 15: Confessions of a Mad Scientist CEO with Tom Raffa, Founder, Raffa
“My mission is to be a catalyst for positive, systemic change in the community” – Tom Raffa Tom Raffa admits he’s is a very unusual CEO. He “winged” his way into accounting to pay for college and has built a firm (and a legacy) that focuses more on impact than on profit. 30+ years later Raffa still contributes 10% (almost $5m last year) in financial and pro-bono services to non-profits and allows *unlimited paid* community service time to any employee! When health insurance premiums skyrocketed, Tom not only kept benefits the same for employees, he invested heavily in wellness programs to make sure his staff is healthy, happy and engaged. Tom is an amazing visionary, entrepreneur and philanthropist and I know you’ll enjoy this interview as much as I did! What you’ll learn: How one school counselor's recognition of Tom's talent planted a seed for him to attend college Fascinating story how Tom stumbled into accounting (by "slightly" fibbing on his resume) to be able to pay for college and “winged it” to success How Tom built his accounting firm on principles of helping the community (and the money would follow) How to instill the philanthropic mindset into the culture of an organization What Tom learned from his non-profit clients about mission focus What non profits can learn from businesses and social ventures about self-sufficiency, sustainability and marketing How social ventures he admires are blending the best of both worlds - business and non-profit models - to create greater impact while staying profitable Strategies for organizations to maximize their resources Tom’s philosophy on how organizations can create opportunities for collaboration / eliminate need to compete for resources How to embrace experimentation and even failure as a leader And so much more! Links & Resources Raffa Learning Community – Raffa offers free classes to help non-profits succeed Raffa Podcast – Another fantastic, educational resource from Raffa Companies for Causes – Organization of CEOs Tom co-founded that works with non-profits on social change issues Mark Kramer article on collective impact Tom recommends About Tom Raffa Tom is the Founder and Managing Partner of Raffa, which he established specifically to service the needs of the nonprofit community and social sector. During his more than 35- year career, Tom has provided accounting, auditing, tax services and business consulting to the nonprofit sector, conducting studies on management structure, internal and operational controls, and management information systems. Many Raffa clients have also enlisted Tom’s assistance in assembling compensation and fringe benefits packages, executive compensation and retirement plans, venture capital/fundraising efforts, investment policies, financial projections, indirect cost proposals and matters of governance. To serve Raffa’s clients more fully, Tom founded three affiliate organizations, Raffa Financial Services, Inc. (RFSI), Raffa Social Capital Advisors (RSCA) and Raffa Wealth Management (RWM). RFSI, formed in 1999, provides insurance and investment products and services, while RWM, formed in 2005, provides investment consulting and financial planning to private foundations and high-wealth individuals who support the nonprofit sector. RSCA was formed in 2016, to accelerate and scale those groups and individuals with solid social enterprises programs that could change the world. Tom’s professional and volunteer support of nonprofits has garnered him several recent awards, including the 2016 Individual Making a Difference Award from The Nonprofit Village, the Georgetown Entrepreneur of the Year, the Volunteer Achievement Award from the Accountants for the Public Interest and SmartCPA two years running from SmartCEO Magazine. Raffa was recognized as the 19th Top Corporate Philanthropist in the Region in 2012. Tom was recognized for the creation of Companies for Causes and his commitment to improving education outcomes for students by the Pearl and Ivy Educational Foundation at the 2014 P.E.A.R.L.S. Awards with the Innovation in Philanthropy Award. In November, Tom will receive the Man of the Year Award from the Italian American Association (Lido Civic Club) for his unwaivering commitment to community. Through Tom’s commitment to his employees health and wellness, the firm was recently honored with the 2016 SmartCEO's Healthiest Company Award for first-rate programming. Inside Public Accounting (IPA) and Accounting Today magazine continuously name Raffa as one of the “Top 100 Accounting Firms” in the nation. IPA’s Top 100 and IPA’s National Benchmarking Report are the industry’s longest-running and most up-to-date analysis and ranking of the nation’s largest accounting firms. A recent report recognized Raffa as its “Best of the Best,” which honors only 50 firms from across the country for their overall superior performance on more than 70 criteria. Recently, IPA recognized Raffa as the only firm in the country whose leadership embraces its international and multi-cultural staff in an article entitled, “One IPA 100 Firm Defies Diversity Statistics: 11 of 17 Partners Are Women.” This article named Raffa as the only firm in the top 100 that is women-owned making it the largest CPA firm in the US that is women-owned. It is also one of the only a few CPA firms that is a certified B Corporation. Tom shares his expertise through articles in national publications such as The Nonprofit Quarterly, The Nonprofit Times and The Chronicle of Philanthropy, which cover issues affecting the nonprofit sector. He also has been an instructor and speaker for many nonprofit training programs and conferences and various federal agencies. Tom is a Certified Public Accountant licensed in the District of Columbia and is an active member of AICPA. He is also a founding board member of the Alliance for Nonprofit Management and the Alliance for Nonprofit Insurance and has served on the board of the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington and Sister Cities of Montgomery County. He is a founding member of the board of Social Impact 360 and a recent member to the Park City Community Foundation board. He is also on the Advisory Board of Aspire. Tom is the Vice Chair, the Treasurer and on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the Catalogue for Philanthropy. Tom is also a member of the board of the United Way of the National Capital Area where he serves on the Strategy Committee and the Audit Committee. Tom is the Treasurer and on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. Tom is a graduate of Georgetown University, a member of the Georgetown University Alumni Admissions Program and has served as a mentor at the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business for more than 20 years. He often speaks at Georgetown for various classes and seminars and is currently involved with the Entrepreneurship Fellowship.