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 The mission of the "Your Mark on the World Center" is to solve the world's biggest problems before 2045 by identifying and championing the work of experts who have created credible plans and programs to end them once and for all.
Crowdfunding for Social Good
Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

Monthly Archives: January 2018

New ‘Impact Security’ Could Revolutionize Philanthropy

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

Catarina Schwab, 43, and Lindsay Beck have set out to completely revolutionize philanthropy. Their firm, NPX, Inc., has introduced a new security to Wall Street called the “Impact security,” which they hope will end the practice of funding nonprofits without impact.

Problems in philanthropy

Ted Williams, Managing Partner at Springbok Partners and an advisor to NPX, explained the problems in philanthropy today. “The nonprofit sector is woefully lacking creative destruction. Mediocre and weak organizations are still attracting funding and the best organizations are not accessing the funding they need to achieve real impact. The only way to get to a more efficient and robust nonprofit market is to reward good organizations and penalize bad ones. This will only occur when there are economic consequences tied to impact.”

For her part, Schwab says, “The nonprofit capital market is opaque and inefficient. It is a trillion-dollar industry and the money is being wasted. And it’s being wasted at the expense of human lives and the environment.”

Watch the interview with Schwab in the video player above.

Catarina Schwab

Impact Security

The impact security is intended to address this problem by inserting investors into the philanthropic capital market to better align the money with desired outcomes.

Nonprofits will issue impact securities in much the same way that corporations issue notes or bonds. The money will go to the nonprofit to fund a specific program with a measurable outcome or impact. The investors don’t get their return from the nonprofit but from a philanthropic guarantor instead. The guarantors are happy to take on this role because they want to give their money away but want it to go where it will have measurable impact.

Impact securities put the donors in a no-lose situation. If the program works and impact is verifiably measured according to the contract, the donors are happy to pay. They have funded something that actually did some good—no guessing, only measuring. On the other hand, if the project fails to achieve the intended results, the donors don’t pay and they keep their money to do good with it another day.

The nonprofit is happy with the arrangement. It gets the money for the program up front. This puts some new pressure to perform on nonprofits, but it is the sort of pressure that is already increasing in the philanthropic marketplace as donors increasingly look for measurable impact.

The investors are taking risk, but not as much as you might worry. The donors acting as guarantors will often put their money in a donor advised fund when the securities are issued so that the funds are already available to meet the guarantee if the outcomes are achieved.

Under longstanding Federal rules, nonprofit securities are not subject to SEC regulations, potentially making them less expensive to issue and allowing ordinary retail investors to participate, not such wealthy or “accredited” investors. This even opens the possibility of crowdfunding.

Measuring Impact

Measuring impact will be a challenge. Schwab says, “We can structure and execute an impact security for any nonprofit with measurable impact.” Still, it is often easier to measure intermediate outcomes than it is measure long-term impact.

Schwab says her model will increase the availability of measurement data and will thereby make measurement easier.

First Transaction: The Last Mile

The first transaction that NPX hopes to complete is an issuance for a nonprofit called The Last Mile that trains prisoners to code while in prison and even employs them to do it. The prisoners can earn $17 per hour, which compares favorably to the $0.94 per hour they earn from other work in prison. This allows them to leave prison with a nest egg, even though much of the money they earn goes to restitution and reimbursing the state for its costs. Some prisoners have even found six-figure jobs after being released from prison.

After working on the project for months, Schwab observed that people often say that prisoners deserve a second chance when they get out. She’s concluded that for many of them that isn’t fair. “This is their first chance; it’s not their second chance.” Some have simply never had an opportunity to get the education and training they need to survive as a contributing member of society. The Last Mile gives them this opportunity.

The impact security the nonprofit hopes to issue will fund a program at San Quentin. The impact that will be measured is straightforward: hours worked in the development shop. This output measure can be tracked easily and objectively. It does, however, ignore the question of whether the program achieves its stated, longer term objectives of helping with a successful reentry and reducing recidivism. Schwab notes that some of the prisoners will never leave but having a real job while in prison is still life-changing.

Prison statistics in the U.S. are staggering. While only 5% of the world’s population lives in the U.S., 25% of the world’s prisoners do. It costs five times as much to incarcerate someone as to educate them.

NPX hopes to help The Last Mile break the cycle and return productive people to society.

Schwab’s explains the premise of her work, “One simple change of linking money with impact changes everything.” Now she’s out to prove it.

Hundreds of nonprofits learned to successfully use online fundraising to reach–or surpass–their goals with my crowdfunding training. Get my free guide to attracting media attention.


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

Turning Over an Old Leaf Ends 3-Year Run Without a Car

Its over. Its been more than three years that Gail and I have lived without owning a car. When we sold the car, I wrote about our plans in what became one of my most popular and memorable Forbes articles. When I meet people for the first time, it is the most commonly mentioned article. Last week, we bought a car.

While I still dont have a commute, my mother recently moved across town and visiting her in her new home requires a $25 Uber rideeach wayor a 90-minute public transit trip followed by a mile walk. Not wishing to disappoint her, we determined that this was a bridge too far for our auto-less lifestyle, so we bought one. More about that here in a bit.

green leaf on a white

With the benefit of three more years of experience, let me update you on what worksand what doesntin the world without a car. Ill work from my original list of twelve things that allowed me to live without a car.

  1. com. There is no question that we have become more delightedly dependent on Amazon.com over the past three yearswho hasnt. It made not owning a car easier.
  2. Living downtown, we really have walked routinely to do errands others drive to do, especially shopping. We live a short walk from a shopping mall and just another block from the nearest grocery store. Comfortable walks all-in-all.
  3. Light rail. Weve logged a lot of miles on light rail here in Salt Lake. It generally runs on time, its affordable and not much slower than drivingso long as your destination is a light rail station.
  4. Commuter rail. We have regularly usedand will continue to usethe rail line that runs about 100 miles from Ogden to Provo along the Wasatch Front. Roomy, comfortable, quick and far cheaper than driving an internal combustion engine car, it is hard to beat.
  5. Bike share. I used the bike share for two years but then canceled my membership. I found that walking is better exercise and I seldom used the bikes. Im hoping that the cheaper, rack-free rental bikes will come to Salt Lake City.
  6. Over the past three years, Ive taken a lot of buses. In many ways, I love them. Real people ride the bus. The reality, however, is that buses move through town at a rate just faster than I can run. With their frequent stops, they run at less than half the speed of an automobile. For long trips, that gets frustrating.
  7. I used Lyft often enough to figure out that the app has an algorithm for estimating the arrival time of a ride that seems to average about one-half of the actual time required for a ride to come. Otherwise, the experience is virtually identical to Uber.
  8. Uber (and Lyft) are really what make not owning a car possible. There are so many times and places that public transit wont go where you want when you want that without Uber I would have needed a car.
  9. Apart from out-of-town travel, I havent used a taxi since just before writing the Forbes article more than three years ago.
  10. Car sharing. Enterprise operated a car-share program in Salt Lake City. I subscribed and used the service about once-per month at first. Over time, my experience was disappointing. If the car wasnt where it was supposed to besay because the last user couldnt return it to its proper place because some jerk had parked there illegallyId end up late for a meeting. Ill spare you the story of Christmas 2015, but I only used the service once after that. Enterprise recently closed the program and, to my knowledge, no one else is operating one in Salt Lake.
  11. I have become more dependent on my local Avis. Located right on my block, Ive been renting a car there an average of more than two days per month. I maintain liability insurance and always use a credit card that provides coverage for the rented car. Even before selling my car, Id often rent a car from Avis for road trips. Better to put 1,200 miles on an Avis car than my own! Im sure I will do so in the future, too.
  12. During our three years without a car, we were frequent beneficiaries of kindnesses of all sorts. To all our friends, we love and appreciate your help and support.

So, we broke down and bought a 2012 Nissan Leaf. This is an all-electric car unlike a Toyota Prius that has both an electric motor and a traditional internal combustion engine to share the work.

The car has rather limited utility. The original range of the car was about 80 miles. That has declined to about 50 miles over the years. Ive described it as having a car with a one-gallon gas tank, that needs a rare form of gasoline that takes a long time to fill the little tank.

You see, with a range of 50 miles and a need for cushion, given that you dont always know how quickly you can find a place to plug in, you can only go about 40 miles. Thats 20 miles out and 20 miles back. Thats my new life.

The best news: it takes barely more than $1 of electricity to fill the little tank.

That limited range means public transit, Uber/Lyft and Avis will still be a part of my life. So, too, will explaining to friends why I need to plug my car in at their houses if they ever want me to leave!

Of course, I didnt buy this car because it was so utilitarian. I bought it because it is environmentally friendly. Let me answer a key question that may have already come to your mind.

NARA, JAPAN – NOVEMBER 23, 2016: Nissan Leaf electric car charging at a station in Nara, Japan.

“Arent you just moving from oil to coal to power your car?” The simple answer is no. Let me explain.

  1. Even though Rocky Mountain Power still produces most of its power from coal, that mix is changing to include more wind and solar all the time. I participate in Rocky Mountain Powers Blue Sky program, where I pay extra each month to help fund the transition to renewable energy. I also buy carbon credits monthly from CoolEffect.com. (You should, too.)
  2. Electric motors are so much more efficient than internal combustion engines (ICEs) that my car is about three times as efficient as a typical ICE car. Even if much of the power for the car comes from coal, it is about two-thirds less damaging to the environment.
  3. To the extent that coal is powering my car, that coal plant isnt contributing to air pollution in the city where I live. Additionally, the plant can be equipped with more filters and cleaners than a vehicle tailpipe to remove toxic emissions.
  4. By switching from Uber/Lyft to Leaf, given that Ive never had a ride in an all-electric vehicle, I am dramatically decreasing my contribution to pollution and global warming.

So, Im turning over an old Leaf, ending my three-year experiment on life without a car and looking forward to one day owning a Tesla.

Why Diabetics Want Pockets in Their Knickers and Where to Get Them

Type 1 Diabetics, those who typically contract the disease as children and not as a result of a lack of diet or exercise, are entirely dependent upon insulin. Today’s insulin delivery and blood glucose monitoring use devices–insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors–that must be connected to them all the time. Finding a comfortable, invisible, convenient place to hold those devices is a relatively new challenge that Pocket Innerwear is helping to solve.

Interview with Laurel Bloomfield, the Co-Founder VP of Pocket Innerwear.

The following is the pre-interview with Laurel Bloomfield. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

We strive to make life with Diabetes easier.  While insulin pump therapy provides greater diabetes control, it also causes complications and questions.  Where do I put this thing? Can I wear my regular clothes? What if I drop it? What if I pull out my site too early? Can I run, jump and play?  What about night time? What is the PumpPocket by Pocket Innerwear?  This patented design was created so people who are insulin dependent would have a clever place to put their insulin pump.  There is an outlet to allow the pump’s tubing to safely be fed through the back and connect to the infusion site.  Your pump remains safe, secure and concealed while preventing your tubing from getting caught or tangled.  All of this in discreet layering undergarments!

More about Pocket Innerwear:

Twitter: @pocketinnerwear

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pocketinnerwear.inc/?ref=br_rs

Website: www.pocketinnerwear.com

Pocket Innerwear is a for profit organization on a mission.  We strive to make life with diabetes easier by providing solutions in the form of clothing with specially designed pockets to keep one’s insulin pump safe, secure and discreet.  Pocket Innerwear was founded with the intention to give back from the start gate.  For every Pump Pocket we sell we give one to a child with Type 1 Diabetes.  We have given away thousands of Pump Pockets so far.

For-profit/Nonprofit: For-profit

Revenue model: We are primarily an e-commerce retail and wholesale apparel business

Scale: 3 Founders working full time on this project, we employ about 5 sub-contractors to help us scale this business.  We are a small start up at our tipping point, we are slated to launch in Wal Mart and are in talks with a few other retail majors.

Laurel Bloomfield

Laurel Bloomfield’s bio:

Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/laurel-bloomfield-954a2670/

Laurel is the Co-Founder and Vice President of Pocket Innerwear.  She is a modern Ranch Wife, a Mother and a business woman.  Her husband and her have a beef cattle ranch in the North West U.S. they also have a Heavy Equipment construction company that specializes in Stream Restoration and Environmental projects.  Laurel and her husband have been married for 13 years.  They have 1 son 5 years whom they adopted at birth, he is the light and very purpose of their lives!  Laurel founded Pocket Innerwear with a couple other stay at home mom friends.  Laurel is creative and a serial entrepreneur so when her son was born and she was spending more time inside and less time on “Ranch Work”  she was on the look out for a way to channel her creative energy and latched onto this cause.  Having close friends with children with diabetes it quickly became not just a little business idea but a mission to really serve!


Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!
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