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5 Quirky Fundraising Event Ideas

This is a guest post from Helen Cartwright, a passionate blogger who excels in the Digital marketing, Finance and Fundraising niche.

Sometimes, when you’re hosting a fundraiser, you want to take that extra step and think outside the box. Quirky fundraisers have the potential to increase your earnings and help you reach more interested people–especially important if, for example, you’re looking for long-term sponsors. If you’re looking for a unique fundraiser idea, these ideas will go a long way toward helping you get started.

#1. Hold a Carnival

There’s nothing that screams “fundraiser” like a huge community event that has something for the entire family. You don’t have to have carnival rides in order to make it plenty of fun–just plenty of games and activities that will attract your target audience. If you’re working out of a school, you could turn every classroom or every hallway into a separate event. If you’re hoping to reach the wider community, using a park is a great choice! Some game and event choices include:

  • Inflatables: bounce houses, slides, and more. See what’s available to rent in your local area!
  • Go “fishing” for duckies with prize numbers written on the bottom.
  • Have a baseball or basketball toss
  • Hold races: foot races, potato sack races, hop races, and even wheelbarrow races are a great way to draw out your more active, competitive participants.
  • Smash an old car that was destined for the junk heap: all you need is the car and sledgehammers!
  • Bowling–or even 2-liter bottle bowling, especially if you’re working on a tight budget.
  • Ring toss–again, 2-liter bottles can help make your fundraiser even cheaper. Make the bottles themselves the prizes!
  • Cake walks (or cookie walks, or just dessert walks) are a great way to increase the excitement at your event.
  • Beanbag toss or cornhole
  • Lollipop trees: color the end of the sucker stick to indicate that the person choosing has won a prize!
  • Petting zoo: contact local farms or other locations to see what might be available for your event

Of course, it wouldn’t be a carnival without the right food. Make sure you have popcorn, snow cones, candy bars, and everything else you need to help make your carnival a success. Fundraiser Insight is a great source for many of your fundraiser needs–including plenty of great food options for your carnival.

#2. Host a Fun Run Event

You may be surprised by just how large–and active–the running community in your city really is, especially if you’ve never been part of it. By hosting a fun run–or a fun walk/run–you can draw in plenty of interest that will have your supporters jumping to get involved. Some quirky and fun ideas for your run include:

  • Try a color run filled with plenty of color stations. Everyone will have a blast!
  • Put together a costume run: princesses and superheroes are popular options, but you could also do a space theme, set a specific color for costumes, or tailor your theme to the organization you’re supporting.
  • Create an obstacle course! It doesn’t have to be difficult to be plenty of fun.
  • Go for a glow run or a nighttime run through your city to increase the number of people who are available to come–after all, night runs are after work hours!

As you’re setting up for your run, make sure you have the right equipment. T-shirts and participation medals might not make a huge difference in the people who participate this year, but they will be free advertising if you decide to make it an annual event. You’ll also want to have plenty of water stations available throughout the course. If you want to take your event to the next level, offer snacks and other drinks for sale both before and after the run. Pretzel rods are one great choice, as are fruit, granola bars, and other common running treats.

#3. Host a Read-a-Thon

Or a dance-a-thon. Or anything else that you think is likely to interest your contributors. Gather them together in the same location, then encourage them to keep doing an activity until they drop! This 24-hour long event will give you plenty of opportunities to sell food, drinks, and more, not to mention the donations you’ll get from participants as they sign up for the event. Even better, you’ll find that this type of event has a relatively low startup cost, especially if you don’t intend to sell many items.

#4. Create a Street Art Event

Graffiti art has become an increasingly popular art form, especially among young people. There’s something incredibly appealing about the huge, blank canvases offered by many public spaces–a freedom that artists can’t find anywhere else. For a fee, offer up-and-coming artists in your town the ability to come and create their own graffiti art. Find a big rock, an empty wall, or some other large space that can be dedicated to the project, then get painting! Make a day out of it by providing food, drinks, crafts, and other events or simply offer your contributors the opportunity to come paint. It will be sure to be an opportunity to remember!

#5. Take It Inside for Pampering for Charity

Many of your biggest contributors love being active: getting out in the great outdoors and doing something exciting while simultaneously contributing to a great cause. Others, on the other hand, prefer something quieter–and pampering for charity is right up their alley. Put together a great spa day for this incredible fundraiser. Options include:

  • Manicures and pedicures
  • Facials
  • Aromatherapy
  • Makeovers
  • Haircuts or styles, if you can find qualified volunteers (note: this should not be done by the inexperienced!)

You can also use your spa day as a great opportunity to sell handmade pampering items, from warm, fuzzy blankets to sugar scrubs and more. Once your contributors are feeling incredibly relaxed, it’s a great time to offer them the chance to make a purchase–like, for example, Just Fundraising’s candles.

Creating a quirky, fun fundraiser isn’t just enjoyable for your contributors. It’s also more interesting for you! Don’t get trapped in your old, boring routine. Instead, embrace the opportunity to do something unique with your fundraiser this year.

Helen Cartwright

About Helen Cartwright:

Helen Cartwright is a passionate blogger, who excels in the Digital marketing, Finance and Fundraising niche. When not wired in marketing strategies she ghost-write for a variety of authors who have their work published on leading online media channels such as The Huffington Post and Entrepreneur.com. 

69 Ways to Change the World

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

The other day, a colleague asked me, “Would you rather buy a 400-page book that guaranteed you’d lose 30 pounds in 30 days or a one-page checklist with the same guarantee?”

That got me thinking, what if I could get the best advice that my network of social entrepreneurs and impact investors could offer in short, tweetable chunks? Wouldn’t they have to strip away all of the stuff that doesn’t matter to provide game-changing advice?

Over the past five years, I’ve had over 800 people on my show to talk about changing the world. Sixty-nine of them responded to my request for their best advice for social entrepreneurs in 100 characters or less. These gems, from people who either have been where you are going as a social entrepreneur or are investing in social entrepreneurs like you, may represent the checklist for success and impact that you’ve been looking for.

Aaron Hurst, CEO of Imperative and author of the Purpose Economy:

Don't just seek to serve a need but to fundamentally shift an issue or market. Click To Tweet

Adlai Wertman, USC Professor, Founding Director of Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab:

Don't believe the people who tell you that you need private sector experience first! Click To Tweet

Amit Bouri

Amit Bouri, CEO of the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN):

Build relationships and approach performance thru a lens of impact, risk & return. #impinv… Click To Tweet

Andreas Karelas, Executive Director of RE-volv:

Have fun with it. Do it for the fun of it and don't worry about the rest. Click To Tweet

Andrei Cherny, CEO of Aspiration:

Make bold plans. Make them reality by focusing on tiny details. Bet on trust, decency and goodness. Click To Tweet

Anne Friedman, managing director of Somos, a Hult Prize finalist:

Product < Your ability to communicate its value. Nail the elevator pitch FIRST. Click To Tweet

Arlene Samen, president of One Heart World:

Social entrepreneurs are able to navigate troubled waters without hesitation. Click To Tweet

Ashish Gadnis, co-founder and CEO of BanQu, Inc.:

End extreme poverty by enabling an economic identity for all humanity. Click To Tweet

Ben Block, founder of GozAround, Inc.:

Don't undercut your vision. Watering down your dream drains its power to attract support. Click To Tweet

Billy Starr

Billy Starr, founder of the Pan Mass Challenge:

Credibility through repetition; closer by the mile; commit, you'll figure it out. Click To Tweet

Bobby Turner, CEO of Turner Impact Capital:

Recognize that daunting social challenges create generational investment opportunities. Click To Tweet

Cecile Blilious, managing director and co-founder of Impact First Investments:

Global challenges can be addressed with technology. Think creatively about tech solutions. Click To Tweet

Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose.org:

The two most important attributes for a social entrepreneur to possess: hustle and humility. Click To Tweet

Dan Buettner, founder of Blue Zones, LLC:

The secret to most success: relentless pressure, gently applied. Click To Tweet

Daniel Jean-Louis, CEO of Bridge Capital:

Foster a trusting relationship between the stakeholders involved in wealth and impact creation. Click To Tweet

Daryl Hatton, CEO of Fundrazr:

Most important words for social CEOs: How can I help? Builds team, connections, community &… Click To Tweet

David D’Angelo, Founder of Jack of All Fares:

Persist not for bottom lines, but because lives depend on it. Then live in a state of urgency. Click To Tweet

David Wilson

David Wilson of Capgemini:

While passion for social impact is key, a sustainable plan is the only path to long-run viability. Click To Tweet

Elizabeth Dearborn Hughes, CEO of Akilah Institute:

It's never too early to create HR policies. Maybe not the most fun but will save headaches later on! Click To Tweet

Jack Rolfe, CEO of the School of Life Foundation:

It is critical to develop solid tools for measuring your impact! Click To Tweet

Jacob Lief, CEO of the Ubuntu Education Fund:

Be ambitious. Be willing to risk failure. But also be honest and think critically about your… Click To Tweet

James Citron, CEO of Pledgeling:

Create like an architect, disrupt like a hacker, execute like a for-profit and lead with heart and… Click To Tweet

Janice Lintz, CEO of Hearing Access and Innovations:

The naysayers will tell you what you can't accomplish and happily take credit for the success. Click To Tweet

Jenny Kassan, of Jenny Kassan Consulting:

Know that it is possible to raise funding from investors on your own terms. Click To Tweet

Joel Solomon

Joel Solomon, co-founder and chair of Renewal Funds:

My life purpose drove my investing, an instinctual process of love for the future. Click To Tweet

Juan Diego Prudot, chief information officer at IMPCT:

Play the floor is lava: jump over obstacles and try not to fall, but if you do, the game just… Click To Tweet

Kara Goldin, CEO of Hint:

Life has so many different chapters. One bad chapter does not mean it’s the end of the book. Click To Tweet

Karim Abouelnaga, CEO of Practice Makes Perfect:

Don't chase people who don't believe in your mission to support your work. It's a bad use of… Click To Tweet

Katherine Fife, founder of Philanthropy Matters:

To be successful, social entrepreneurs must be authentic and express an abundance of gratitude. Click To Tweet

Kathleen Minogue, founder of Crowdfund Better:

Don't be afraid of appearing to stand still; listening, observing & reflecting are actions. Click To Tweet

Kip Kint, success coach at Kint Enterprises:

The secret to success in life lies in making, honoring, and keeping commitments… to yourself. Click To Tweet

Kirsten Henry Fox, courtesy of Uplift Gift

Kirsten Henry Fox, founder and CEO of Uplift Gift:

When facing seemingly impossible leaps, suspend disbelief and let curiosity guide you to the bridge. Click To Tweet

Lance Allred, CEO of Courage and Grit:

The best time hack is learning how to say, No. Click To Tweet

Laura Callanan, founding partner of Upstart Co-Lab:

Remember why you are doing what you are doing and pick your metrics before someone picks them for… Click To Tweet

Laura Lemle, founder and chairperson of the NVLD Project:

When you come up with an idea or you want to give back, do it. Don’t let fear or obstacles stop… Click To Tweet

Laurent Lamothe, former Prime Minister of Haiti:

Honesty and kindness are the keys to success. Click To Tweet

Laurie Lane-Zucker, founder and CEO of Impact Entrepreneur Center:

Your work is most impactful if it transforms both the world and you. Click To Tweet

Lauryn Agnew, CEO of Seal Cove Financial:

Social enterprises should target, measure and disclose their impact, output and outcomes. Click To Tweet

Leslie Calman, CEO of Engineering World Health:

Social change requires thoughtful action. Less tweeting: more doing! Click To Tweet

Lindsay Hadley of Hadley Impact Consulting:

If others doubt, question or criticize you, trust time to tell the true story of your character. Click To Tweet

Lindsey Kneuven, chief impact officer of Cotopaxi:

Design for systems change and maintain focus to prevent the dilution of quality and impact. Click To Tweet

Lindsey Tropf

Lindsey Tropf, CEO of Immersed Games:

No margin, no mission. The business must be sustainable in order to accomplish everything you want! Click To Tweet

Lisa Curtis, CEO of Kuli Kuli:

Start with the story but dive quickly into the data. Click To Tweet

Lisa Tomasi, President of You Give Goods:

Dream big but build your business on small, measurable goals that are focused on your mission. Click To Tweet

Liz Baker, Executive Director of GreaterGood:

Everything starts with impact. Try new things. Stop doing what doesn't work. Do more of what… Click To Tweet

Marc Raco of MouthMedia Network:

Curate content that motivates robust sharing. Important to you doesn't mean important to them. Click To Tweet

Mark Horoszowski, CEO of Moving Worlds:

Keep your mission front and center; never stop testing the best way to achieve it. Click To Tweet

Matthew Davis, founder of RENEW, LLC:

You're an entrepreneur building a profitable business that does something social. Remember profit. Click To Tweet

Matthew Weatherley-White, managing director and co-founder of the Caprock Group:

Mission won't guarantee success. Be relentless on operations and finances and mission can flourish. Click To Tweet

Mellanie True Hills

Mellanie True Hills, CEO and founder of StopAfib.org and American Foundation for Women’s Health:

The more important your vision, the more doors will open for you. Our vision: No more afib strokes. Click To Tweet

Melody Brenna, CEO of Reef Life Nanoscience:

Brains + Biz not synonymous with success, add advanced science + UPlifting Human Condition = ZEN… Click To Tweet

Michael D. Lowe, A Parent Media Co., Inc. (Kidoodle.tv):

Continually search for novel ways to monetize through unlikely sources, collaboration and… Click To Tweet

Morgan Simon, managing director of Pi Investments:

Fight like hell for the things that you really care about. Then forget the rest. Click To Tweet

Nancy Hughes, president and Founder of Stove Team International:

If you are passionate about the mission, it's not work. You enjoy every challenge and every day. Click To Tweet

Nancy Pfund, founder and managing partner of DBL Partners:

Don’t be afraid of the incumbent. If you hold to your mission, society will be on your side. Click To Tweet

Nell Derick Debevoise, founder and CEO of Inspiring Capital:

Make sure there's not an existing org to house your vision. Building costs a lot of time and money! Click To Tweet

Paul Elio, founder and CEO of Elio Motors:

Live your passion, love the process, treat people well, do what you say and never, ever, give up. Click To Tweet

Per Saxegaard, founder of Business for Peace Foundation:

Purpose of business is to improve society (if you’re not here to improve society, why are you… Click To Tweet

Robert Selliah, founder and CEO of American Medchem Nonprofit Corporation:

Firm attitude of inclusiveness is essential to serve the most vulnerable members of our society. Click To Tweet

Ross Baird

Ross Baird, CEO of Village Capital:

Always ask yourself: what is the actual problem I am solving (and for whom)? Click To Tweet

Sam X. Renick of SammyRabbit.com:

Have a deep personal purpose filled mission to quiet grave doubts, difficulties and… Click To Tweet

Samira Harnish, executive director of Women of the World:

Lead by listening. Gain trust by being authentic. Work hard, never taking no for an answer. Click To Tweet

Scot Chisholm, co-founder and CEO of Classy:

Always think like an underdog, or lose to someone who is. Click To Tweet

Scott Hill, president of Clean Energy Advisors (disclosure: Scott Hill is a client):

Love God, love your neighbor, identify a problem, take action, make a difference...in that order. Click To Tweet

Steve Grizzell, managing director, Innoventures Capital:

Build a great team. Rarely is anything big done by one person because big problems are complex. Click To Tweet

Thane Kreiner, executive director of the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship:

Focus on how your core competencies generate impact; partner to yield a complete solution. Click To Tweet

Todd Sylvester, founder of Todd Sylvester Inspires:

The most delightful surprise in life is to suddenly recognize there is nothing wrong with you. Click To Tweet

Wendy Lipton-Dibner

Wendy Lipton-Dibner, president and CEO of Professional Impact, Inc.:

Your business success rests not on revenue but on the measurable impact you make in people's lives. Click To Tweet

Zach Hagopian, co-founder of Accelevents:

Put yourself in the users' shoes to find the common ground between user needs and business goals. Click To Tweet

Which challenge most inspires you? Tweet it, then do it!

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!

How This Social Entrepreneur Learned From Her International Development Experience

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Sarina Prabasi, born in Nepal, and her husband, Elias Gurmu, born in Ethiopia, launched Buunni Coffee, selling fair-trade Ethiopian coffee in New York City. The enterprise, their social entrepreneurship and indeed their relationship, grew out of Prabasi's… Click To Tweet

Today, she serves as the CEO of WaterAid America, a position she assumed in 2014. With an annual budget of $7.1 million, the NGO is a leader in the “WASH” or water, sanitation and hygiene community. She’s spent a total of 20 years working in the field.

Watch my interview with Prabasi at the top of this article.

Prabasi reports that the organization was originally focused on clean water and has helped 24.9 million gain access to clean water. Another 24 million people have gained access to toilets and sanitation.

She says that the water issues in Flint, Michigan have helped Americans empathize with people around the world who lack access to clean water. “People who maybe previously weren’t able to connect to it in a personal way are able to connect to it because of the very unfortunate things that have happened here.”

Over the past several decades, WaterAid reports that about 2.6 billion people worldwide have gained access to clean water, representing dramatic progress toward solving the problem globally. Today, 663 million people still lack access to clean water.

WaterAid has a goal, consistent with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal number six, to see that everyone on the planet has access to clean water and sanitation by 2030. This seems achievable given the progress of the past several decades. The greatest challenge appears to be getting everyone access to sanitation.

The UN reports that as of 2015, 2.4 billion people lacked access to “an improved sanitation facility.” That’s a bureaucratic way of saying 2.4 billion people don’t have toilets.

Prabasi highlights the challenges that come from a lack of access to a toilet. She notes that regardless of the amount or quality of food, kids in communities without access to sanitation are so frequently sick with diarrhea that they are malnourished. “Nearly 900 children under the age of five die each day from diarrheal diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation.”

The problems resulting from a lack of sanitation disproportionately impact women and girls. Women are sometimes victims of sexual violence when they make late-night excursions to find a private place to defecate.

In addition, she says, “women and girls spend 40 billion hours a year collecting water for their families from water sources that are often remote and unsafe to drink.”

There are also health problems that result simply from “holding it,” she says.

The problem extends to public health facilities in the developing world, where Prabasi says she too often finds there is no running water and no toilet. One can only imagine the lack of hygiene in a clinic without these basic facilities.

Prabasi says progress is being made. “WaterAid and its local partners have helped two million people gain clean water, three million people gain toilets, and more than eight million people gain access to hygiene education” over the past year.

She says, she’s proud of the organization’s innovation. WaterAid helps “specifically by promoting vocational training, entrepreneurship, sanitation marketing and supply chain development.” Prabasi adds, “A great example of this can be found in the job skills training program that we’ve piloted with at-risk teens, and with former gang members in Nicaragua.”

Prabasi’s work with NGOs has clearly influenced her approach to entrepreneurship. When she launched Buunni Coffee in 2012, it was the city’s first Ethiopian coffee shop. “It was important to me to do something that would help New Yorkers go beyond the usual famine- and poverty-stricken images of Ethiopia by bringing a new perspective and a slice of the country’s rich coffee culture to NYC.”

“Formerly a shoe repair shop, I’m very proud of the fact that we’ve created a vibrant community space at Café Buunni that supports local writers and artists, hosts community events and ‘walks the talk’ of socially responsible business,” she concludes.

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!

She Sold Her Home; What Would You Do For Your Nonprofit?

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

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

Jean Krisle sold her home, bought a 40-foot RV and hit the road for a year. What would you be… Click To Tweet

Krisle launched 10,000 Beds in 2014. The “beds” are addiction treatment beds, typically for 30 days, in treatment centers across the country. Her goal is to get 10,000 people in treatment by 2020.

In 2016, 10,000 Beds awarded more than $1 million of scholarship beds to people seeking treatment, she reports. And she expects to more than double that amount in 2017, having already received more applications in the first quarter of this year than she did in all of last year.

Watch the interview with Krisle at the top of this article.

She became focused on addition after seeing her own son become addicted and make a successful recovery. She says she is proud of Colin who took a fourth job trying to support his wife and four children when he ultimately became an alcoholic and addicted to cocaine.

She credits a “failed” family intervention with preventing Colin from committing suicide on his road to recovery. Today, Colin is in recovery. He’s gainfully employed and she says, “He’s never been happier.” Attending funerals for his friends who continue to struggle with addiction serves as a reminder for him to stay clean and sober.

Jean Krisle

Krisle explains the entrepreneurial genesis for the nonprofit. She says, “10,000 Beds is the result of my awareness of empty beds in nearly all treatment centers at some time each year, along with the keen awareness of so many seeking help but without resources. It was an equation that needed solving. 10,000 Beds was the answer.”

Working at this point with an all-volunteer model and donated beds, the organization hasn’t needed substantial resources. Krisle says, they are still largely dependent on individual donations and corporate sponsorships.

Abhilash Patel, co-founder of Recovery Brands and Rehabs.com, serves on the board of 10,000 Beds. He says of Krisle, “I was struck by her authenticity, passion the simple common sense of her vision for 10,000 beds. It makes absolute sense that treatment programs with unused capacity should be able to donate at least one bed per year to a deserving recipient.”

Travis Whittaker, Director of Client Outreach at Cold Creek Behavioral Health, a treatment facility that has participates in the 10,000 Beds initiative, says, “We decided to participate in 10,000 Beds, Inc because it is a great program which allows addicts who are seeking treatment, but don’t have insurance or other means to receive treatment on a scholarship basis.”

He adds, “I believe 10,000 Beds, Inc. will be successful because the addicts who are seeking treatment under this program desperately want recovery, are invested in the process of applying for a scholarship, and when receiving it realize it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to better their life.”

10,000 Beds RV

Krisle says the trip is intended to accomplish three goals:

  1. Raise more money, mostly via crowdfunding
  2. Bring attention to the issue
  3. Develop better relationships with treatment centers, including both those that have not yet committed to participate and those that have

Patel notes that the road trip is a fitting promotion for the young organization. “The RV represents exactly what 10,000 beds is all about: down-to-earth, practical reliability on the road across the entire country.”

Whittaker agrees. He says, “I believe Jean’s year long RV trip for 10,000 Beds, Inc will impact her work positively. She will be able to reach and spread awareness of her program to more treatment centers throughout the United States, thus allowing more addicts to receive help under the program.”

Patel is optimistic about the future of the organization, noting that, “The organization is very close to an inflection point – just a few more key supporters and the program will take off. Every ounce of support matters!”

Krisle seems willing to do whatever is required to make this work, to help address the country’s epidemic of addiction. This begs the question, what am I willing to do to make my social venture a success. What are you willing to do?

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!

Full Time Ball Players And Part Time Social Entrepreneurs

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

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

Young men thrown into the national spotlight for their athletic prowess in the NBA are also taking time to give back.

Sherrie Deans, the Executive Director of the National Basketball Players Association Foundation visited with me to share insights about the efforts of extraordinary athletes to make a difference, especially in the communities of their roots.

Deans points to the “current Isaiah Thomas” of the Boston Celtics, clarifying that she’s not talking about the Detroit Pistons legend of the same name, as one who has given back. Of the 5’ 9” Thomas, she says, “He is a tiny guy. He is not supposed to be in the league, by all accounts.”

Thomas renovated the gym of the Boys and Girls Club in his hometown of Tacoma, Washington. The theme of gym, “Pick me last again,” was inspired by Thomas’s unlikely rise to prominence in the league. The gym provides a safe place for kids to come play sports and participate in a range of other programs that help kids thrive in school and life.

Deans also shared that Dikembe Mutombo has a woman’s clinic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, one of the most impoverished countries in the world, that is doing “transformational work.” Mutombo, who’s Twitter feed describes him now as the CEO of the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, was born in Kinshasha, the capital. For this article, he described his motivation for doing the work he does there. “Because I am the Son of Congo, I want to improve the living conditions of the people.”

Retired Congolese-American basketball player Dikembe Mutombo poses with schoolchildren after

Deans says, “No one that knows Dikembe thinks that he is anything less than a giant of a figure. His impact off the court has been unbelievably amazing.”

Mutombo acknowledges that his work is making a difference. “I am very proud of my work. I was the first to build a premier hospital [in the DRC] in more than 45 years.”

Deans notes that Mutombo’s work there has inspired younger players from Africa to look for ways they can give back to their communities as well.

Deans says, “The NBPA Foundation highlights and accelerates the real and collaborative work that National Basketball players do worldwide to build their communities and create meaningful change.”

#EverydayDads

The NBPA Foundation is running a program called “#EverydayDad.” She explains, “One of the key initiatives of the NBPA Foundation is the recent launch of #Everyday Dad series to celebrate fathers and fatherhood and to provide inspiration for fans to celebrate their own relationships with their dads and their kids.”

Deans says, this is about “telling a different story.” She says the goal was to help fans see them not only as celebrity athletes but also as fathers. She acknowledges that it is also about changing narratives about men, particularly men of color. She says, “There is a prevailing narrative that there is a disconnection between these men and their families.” The message is intended to “inform a new narrative, not just for our players but for to provide a new way for people find themselves or see themselves.”

These NBA players may be full-time athletes, but they are also part-time social entrepreneurs finding ways to serve their communities.

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!

The Model for Place-Based Impact Investing: What, Who, Why, How and Where

By Lauryn Agnew, CEO of Seal Cove Financial

Place-based impact investing adds another dimension to the exciting and growing field of impact investing: the investment strategy designed to combine financial returns with positive economic and/or environmental impacts. In its early phase, impact investing was predominantly associated with private equity investments into social enterprises to improve the lives of those at the global ‘bottom of the pyramid’ – the poorest of the poor. Broadening the concept of impact investing to include place can open opportunities for place-based mission-oriented organizations to participate in investing in as well as giving to one’s mission and place.

For those fiduciaries whose mission is to serve their beneficiaries in a particular geographic region, limited place-based investment strategies exist. The financial services industry is based on global geographic diversification strategies and regional/local markets haven’t justified the development of very many local investable opportunities.

We believe that the San Francisco /Silicon Valley Bay Area has the right combination of institutional wealth pools, talent, innovative spirit, and generous philanthropists to demonstrate that Place-Based Impact Investing can bring private capital, public resources, and philanthropic assets together to build a better and stronger, more sustainable economic region. With the right model, the wealth pools that have grown so large in our Bay Area could prudently and intentionally invest a small portion of their assets in our own region, enhancing our economic resilience, prosperity and sustainability.

Collaboration and centralization, combined with transparency and stringent due diligence, can provide the tools to invest – just a small portion of – our asset pools (retirement plans, community and family foundations, corporate and private charitable assets, and endowments) – into our local economy. By offering a family of funds, that is well due-diligenced by an expert team, we can manage the collective asset base in specialized multi-manager funds based on broad asset classes: public equity, fixed income (bonds), real estate, infrastructure, private equity and a community investing/savings fund. Using these funds as building blocks for a relatively small portfolio allocation to place-based impact investing (for example, 1-5%), investors can target their unique risk/return/impact goals and have an intentional impact on the Bay Area. Risk and return are set to achieve the asset class’s individual benchmark risk and return profile (for example, the public equities portfolio’s benchmark is the Russell 3000). Additionally, these funds will have a goal to seek, invest, report, and disclose their local or regional/ Bay Area impact. Each asset class has a specific targeted impact potential.

A well diversified portfolio can therefore offer a variety of potential impact opportunities. Using our public equity holdings, we can engage corporate managements, particularly those companies headquartered in the Bay Area, on a variety of topics like Board of Directors diversity, for example, and encouraging more diversity in the Board and senior management. We can encourage stronger environmental protections around the Bay and the world. We can encourage fair and non-discriminatory policies for the employees of these companies, many of who will be living in the Bay Area. We can encourage and invest in sustainable, long term local and regional real estate projects and programs that will provide strong returns to investors while helping to meet our pressing real estate and housing needs and goals. Infrastructure is a long term investment across many fields, like energy, information, health and education, housing and transit, jobs and community development. Private capital, invested in non-public social and job-creating companies, in start-ups and incubators, can flow more abundantly into disruptive and cutting edge technologies. By using one or more of our portfolios for intentional local impact, we can invest for a long term sustainable, prosperous and resilient community.

Who is a place-based impact investor?

There’s an easy way to know if you are a place-based impact investor: check your mission statement – or even your organization/foundation’s name. If a certain geographic area is mentioned there, it means that you have an opportunity for geographic alignment of investments with your mission, using assets to augment or enhance your gifting (or benefit) dollars in support of your mission.

Some examples of place-based investors include the following:

The large endowment funds at the academic institutions in the Bay Area (Stanford, Cal, USF, Santa Clara, etc.) can invest in the Bay Area to help serve the students who live all around the Bay Area – by investing in our local economy: diversity and jobs, company formation and engagement, housing and transit, etc. We can invest locally to keep our region welcoming, healthy and safe for students.

Public retirement funds, like the City and County of San Francisco Employees Retirement System, (59,000 active and retired employees and $20 billion in assets, https://mysfers.org/resources/publications/sfers-actuarial-valuations ) and whose employees quite likely travel from other counties where they live to work in San Francisco, have an opportunity allocate a small portion of their global portfolios to local economic development. They and the several other public retirement funds in the Bay Area invest billions of dollars of assets globally. Within these portfolios, they could intentionally support local investments, earn market rates of return through institutionally recognized investment managers, and participate in the funding for infrastructure, housing, transit, etc. for their employees and retirees and the overall benefit of the regional community.

Large corporate and personal wealth pools, whose owners are the beneficiaries of the innovation and economic strength of the Bay Area and whose employees live and work all over the Bay Area, can make local and regional investments to help build a more prosperous, resilient and sustainable future for their current and future employees and their families. Our generous philanthropists (Hewlett, Packard, Benioff, and Zuckerberg, to name a few) have an opportunity to use part of the 95% of their assets that is not given away as grants for local investing, without sacrificing return or increasing risk. Investments like these can add to the power of mission oriented grants, using more parts of the portfolio’s capital stack for local impact.

We can make it easier for place-based fiduciaries, wealth managers and asset owners to invest locally for impact by offering a centralized place for investments to be researched, managed by proven outside managers, and monitored for risks, returns and local impact.

Why we want to make place-based impact investments:

Our research indicates that we can overcome the various beliefs that investors have held that keep them unable or unwilling to consider place-based impact investing:

  1. Can’t make market returns if you focus on or align with place or mission
  2. Not enough deal flow or proven strategies to diversify or meet size requirements
  3. Not enough resources/staff time to spend on due diligence for this small portion of portfolio
  4. Not enough evidence that impact will happen and returns will be made
  5. Can’t risk taking it to the Board for approval – for the above reasons

For the San Francisco/Silicon Valley Bay Area Impact Investing Initiative, place-based impact investing is about building a platform through which fiduciaries can collaborate on investments all around the San Francisco/Silicon Valley economic region that can provide a combination of market/benchmark returns in each asset class AND a positive local impact on our community. That broad goal opens the door to our robust economic economy that ranks in the top 20 in the world, is headquarters to the second largest concentration of S&P 500 companies, and is home to a uniquely innovative and diverse urban/rural community and world class destination. The Bay Area however still has its challenges, struggles and failings. Intentionally directing a small portion of our large global portfolios (maybe 1%) to the long term solutions for our own backyard can have a significant influence on the speed at which we find those solutions. Private capital can guide resources to the gaps in our economy and build a more prosperous, sustainable and resilient region.

Like all investment strategies, impact investing, for our purposes, provides a return and can be recycled over and over, unlike a grant which is a one-time impact gift. Place-based impact investing can tap into more of the capital resources of an organization to complement and enhance the grant-making activities of its regional mission.

Small allocations from large portfolios, when placed in commonly used financial instruments managed by professional investment firms, and even with a mission alignment in geographic terms, would not add to the overall riskiness of a global portfolio. Nor would that portion put the global rate of return expectations of the portfolio in jeopardy if it were constructed under the same strict fiduciary standards for all institutional funds under UPMIFA and ERISA. A large pool of assets dedicated to local investing would draw capital seekers and investment strategies for consideration as potential investments through the investment managers, growing the opportunity set and deal flow. Tracking the local impact would be concurrent with regular monitoring of the portfolios. A team of dedicated financial professionals, employing the best practices and resources of our field, can give investors the building blocks to make prudent portfolios with market returns and a local impact, customized to each investor’s own unique risk, return and impact goals.

The impact generated by these investment portfolios will depend on how that asset class provides impact, and how much we can focus that impact on the Bay Area. Having appropriate expectations about the sort of impact that each asset class offers is key to understanding how an overall portfolio can combine impact with returns. In the early days of these funds, the impact from these Bay Area portfolios would be small. With the potential for growing the assets base over time, more impact can be focused on the Bay Area’s unique needs and challenges.

Public Equity

In the public equity sector, the impact an investor has comes from the right of shareholders to engage with the management of companies to build long-term value. Shareholders can vote proxies as well as work with other groups of investors, sometimes in direct communication with management, for setting and reaching certain environmental, social or governance goals. As shareholders of Bay Area – headquartered companies, we can monitor and engage with corporate management for our commonly held goals of environmental safety of the San Francisco Bay and watershed, diversity in senior management and at the Board level, and for policies that include employees and community as stakeholders. The model portfolio developed in 2011 shows that a portfolio like this would have provided higher returns with no increase in risk (since inception through 2016). Tools like corporate engagement, ESG monitoring, a focus on companies headquartered in the Bay Area with a positive social, environmental and governance profile, build a portfolio that is better than average and could have a long term positive local impact. Indeed, some of these Bay Area companies could partner with us and put some investable assets to work in our own backyard. Publicly traded equities (stocks) are a part of everyone’s portfolio, and are a worthy tool for the impact they offer to shareholders.

Fixed Income

Fixed income portfolios can track the impact they have through the bonds they own. Providing liquidity to investable projects is a proven strategy for impact and there are many ways to participate: small business loans, corporate bonds, municipal and government bonds, green bonds, infrastructure bonds, etc. These categories are then sliced and diced by industry, nationality, currency, etc. Building a fixed income portfolio that focuses on the financing opportunities in the Bay Area, like direct lending, deposits/investments at community banks and loan funds, local bond issuances, middle market corporate loans, through vetted investment professional firms, can provide both an overall market rate of return (Barclays Aggregate) and evidence of the impact, output and outcomes from that financing.

Real Estate

Likewise, Real Estate as an asset class has its own footprint for risk, return and impact. A diversified fund would include some liquid options, like sustainable REITS, and property investments across the spectrum, including residential and homeownership, multi-family and rentals, commercial, industrial, retail, and affordable categories. While the real estate portfolio will not be 100% Bay Area focused in the early days, we could expect to see more concentration in the Bay Area as the funds mature. The Bay Area has unique challenges to developing our limited and scenic real estate while balancing it with the enormous growth our region has seen. Longer term investors in the Bay Area Impact Investing real estate portfolio would invest in sustainable, regional solutions to some of the problems we face in housing disparity, affordability and shortage across the region. The portfolio would also include local and regional properties like medical, industrial, commercial, educational, etc.

Infrastructure

Infrastructure opportunities would include broad categories of sustainable, prosperous and resilient community/regional investments, like cleaner energy for our homes, businesses, and cars, better transit options, affordable housing near transit, education and job training tied to job creation and job development in the region. Adjusting to the risks of climate change and sea level rise will take a regional effort to mitigate the risk that our San Francisco Bay can flood billions in real estate assets along its shores. In some cases, investments in infrastructure may have extended positive impact beyond the Bay Area. For example, water infrastructure investments may include the entire San Francisco Bay watershed north to Oregon and west to Nevada.

Private Equity/Venture Capital

Private equity was virtually born and raised in Silicon Valley. Experts at innovation and finding the next disruptor, private equity/venture capitalists have created millions of jobs around the world, as well as here in the Bay Area. To continue the Bay Area’s leadership, we can build that impact investing eco-system of innovation and support to solve not only the world’s problems but some of our own here at home. The investment spectrum in the private equity space in the Bay Area can also include the innovative Hubs, Incubators, crowd-funding and other alliances for investors. More funding opportunities for social entrepreneurs, building a social stock exchange, networking for more angel funding and more access to each other will help build the bridge between capital providers and capital seekers, through centralized virtual and physical resources.

Community Investment/Savings accounts

A diversified pool of notes with Bay Area based Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) will have a risk and return profile like that of a “really good savings account” while providing an asset base for these community banks and loan funds to grow their impact. They create a lot of community impact through lending to small businesses and non-profit organizations in our community and they have been doing this work successfully for decades. This can now be an accessible investment/savings choice for place-based impact investors. Under development is the first ever “Bay Area Super CD-Note” where we tie together transparency, liquidity, impact and strong returns through highly rated CDFIs in the San Francisco/Silicon Valley Bay Area.

It seems that intentionally focusing a small portion of our investment portfolios on investing in the Bay Area would be a good thing, especially if we can expect to get market returns and a positive local impact, but without all the time and effort of doing it alone.

How to use the Bay Area Impact portfolios as building blocks for aligning your investment strategy with your mission and impact goals in your own backyard.

The six Bay Area Impact Investing portfolios (public equity, fixed income, real estate, infrastructure, private equity, and community investing/savings) are like building blocks to mix and match to meet your own personal, family or institutional target investment goals and mission. Each portfolio is asset class specific, and is designed to deliver the market/benchmark return for that asset class as well as a positive impact on the San Francisco Bay Area’s long term sustainability, prosperity and resilience.

Let’s describe the characteristics of each of the portfolios:

Public Equities: This model stock portfolio is over-weighted in Bay Area headquartered companies which gives its investors an oversized voice for indirect impact through corporate engagement and proxy voting. It encourages strong attention to ESG criteria, long term wealth creation for shareholders, and a positive impact on the Bay Area through shareholder activism.

  • Very liquid, can be very volatile but over the long term is an important part of an overall portfolio.
  • Should be investable for retirement accounts in a mutual fund format.
  • Would include active, passive and ‘enhanced index’ strategies to achieve market levels of risk and return

Publicly Traded Fixed Income: This Bay Area bond fund will hold a broad selection of investable bonds generally offered by Bay Area issuers: municipalities, local governments and agencies, regional corporate bonds as well as strategies for direct lending to small and medium sized businesses and non-profits, and project bonds for the area.

  • Very liquid, can be a solid foundation to a portfolio with current income to the investor, tied with professional strategies for seeking strong total returns like its benchmark, the Barclays Aggregate.
  • Should be investable for retirement accounts in a mutual fund format.
  • Would include a mix of active, passive, community, government and corporate securities

The Real Estate portfolio will include both liquid REITs and investable projects across the spectrum of residential (homeownership and rentals, affordable and planned spaces, rental and multi-family), industrial and commercial broadly across the Bay Area. It will include sustainability, resilience and prosperity goals and will adopt fiduciary standards to invest in the complex environment that is the San Francisco Bay Area real estate market. Impact here can be counted in terms of properties built/bought, families housed, jobs created, GHG reduced, etc.

  • Less liquid than stocks and bonds, offers long term protection against inflation and a good diversifier in portfolios that can afford less liquidity or have a longer holding period
  • Would include REITS, portfolios with active specialty real estate managers in various sectors of the market, with some level of impact in the Bay Area

Infrastructure investments may be in the form of infrastructure bonds tied to specific projects, or public private partnerships for longer term regional transit, housing, and community development solutions. Clean and green energy efficiency, internet access, congestion on the highways, carbon footprints are some of the infrastructure investment needs we see in the Bay Area. With our approach to pooling long term assets, we can find the right partners and shovel-ready opportunities, through networking and centralized collaboration.

  • Highly illiquid, can result in high local impact in job creation, funding community and economic development plans for the long term
  • Brings the discipline of private markets to the public resources for more efficient project management.
  • Can provide cash flow and inflation hedge to investors and portfolios and move the regional economy forward in big ways.

Private equity portfolios, with exposure to the newest entrepreneurial talent found in hubs, incubators and our leading business schools, can be fueled with local talent and resources so the Bay Area can continue to lead the world in creative solutions through innovation and technology. This is a long term portfolio, usually inaccessible to many investors, that can provide early funding for new disruptive ideas, mentorship, and building job-creating machines that focus on the resources and needs of the Bay Area. Success stories already abound about start-ups in the Bay Area’s Low-Moderate Income neighborhoods that have realized significant local impact and provided strong returns to private equity investors, like Pandora, Tesla, Revolution Foods, to name a few.

  • This fund is a long term investment with the potential for high returns over 10-15 years.
  • Takes patience but can offer direct impact by funding unique solutions visible right here.

Combining asset classes in our portfolios is smart diversification. We can apply this concept to our local investment portfolio allocations as well. For example, the old investing rule of thumb was to have a 60% stocks/40% bonds portfolio. Today a well diversified portfolio might look like this below:

Asset ClassAllocationExpected annual returns
Stocks30-40%7-9%
Bonds20-30%3-5%
Real Estate10%8-15%
Infrastructure10%`8-15%
Private Equity10%`15-25%
Community Investment/Savings1-5%1-2%

Typical portfolios will mix these asset classes for an overall average rate of return, relying on the ups and downs of each asset class in its market cycle to moderate the overall risk (volatility) in the portfolio, resulting in a long term average expectation for the portfolio to return about 6.5-7.5% annually over time.

If you are a moderate-risk/moderate-return investor, as are many long term asset pools that expect to survive many generations, then this diversified allocation approach could be a guideline for your place-based impact investing allocation. Split your 1% place-based impact investing allocation into its component asset classes and look forward to it earning it’s assigned market benchmark returns and providing a positive impact on the Bay Area overall.

If you are a more aggressive investor you can shift your percentage allocation in favor of the higher earning asset classes like public and private equities, targeting more there and less to the other asset class portfolios.

If you are a more conservative investor and want more comfort in a less volatile portfolio, you can choose to invest more in the Community Investment/Savings, Bond and Infrastructure funds.

Likewise, because these are already geographically aligned, local mission oriented investors can tilt their place-based impact investments to focus more on a particular alignment with mission than on the risk and return metrics. For example a fund that seeks to impact jobs and job creation can use the public equity, private equity, and real estate portfolios to impact the job goals for job creation and job development. Housing advocates can align their investments to the Real Estate, Bond and Infrastructure portfolios.

Tracking the Impact in the Bay Area

Building sustainability will be a long term investment goal for the BAIII portfolios. In the beginning, we want at least some portion of our private capital portfolios to be participating on an intentional basis in the investable opportunities in the Bay Area. In the long term, we want to create more impactful opportunities and an investment platform for channeling local resources and capital to local investments and community resilience for our region. We can grow into a clearinghouse for other parts of the impact investing capital stack as well.

From the model portfolios designed in 2013-14, we can extract the sorts of investments that provide examples of the kinds of impact we seek in the various asset classes.

  • Fixed Income/Community Investment/Savings: Community Capital Management Inc.
    • CRA Qualified Investment Fund Institutional fund
    • Symbol: CRANX: $2.0 billion fixed income mutual fund
    • Intermediate term, investment grade fixed income
    • Benchmark: Barclays Aggregate
    • Earmarked bonds for CRA credit and local impact
      • Geographically focused on SF Bay Area
      • Taxable Municipal Bonds, Redevelopment Agency
      • Bay Area Small Business Administration bonds
      • Bay Area GNMA and FNMA Affordable Housing bonds
      • Salvation Army (corporate)
      • CDFI deposits in Bay Area (Community Development Financial Institutions)
        • CRA = Community Reinvestment Act
  • Affordable Housing and Job Creation: AFL-CIO Housing Income Trust

HIT Invests $16.8 Million in Gabilan Plaza Apartments in Salinas, CA Rehab of Affordable Housing Development Will Generate Over 110 Union Construction Jobs

5/29/2014

The AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT) provided $16.8 million in financing for the $43.3 million rehabilitation of Gabilan Plaza Apartments, a multifamily development that has provided affordable housing to residents of Salinas, CA, for over 40 years. The all-union rehabilitation work is expected to generate more than 110 union jobs.

The HIT investment of union and public employee pension funds will help finance exterior and interior rehabilitation at the aging housing complex, which consists of 26 garden-style apartment buildings offering 200 rental units. All of the units are income restricted, with 10% designated for households earning up to 50% of the area median income and the rest reserved for families earning up to 60% of the area median income.

  • Community Investing/Savings: Northern California Community Loan Fund
    • Since 1987, NCCLF has invested $150,904,816 in Northern California, financing over 300 projects that have created or preserved 14,459 jobs, 5,742 low-income housing units, and served over 700,000 clients.
    • Recent project examples:
      • Provided a $216,000 loan to a Contra Costa homeless services provider to build a catering kitchen that now distributes 60 tons of groceries annually from eight locations
      • Provided $2.8 million in loans and collaborated with other public and private partners to build and maintain a transit-oriented multi-tenant center in Berkeley.
  • Institutional Real Estate – Sustainable Industrial, Commercial, Job Creation: American Realty Advisors
    • Construction of Cherry Logistics Center, a 574,000 square foot warehouse distribution facility in the San Francisco Bay Area is proceeding with a 2Q14 delivery date. The property is the first of its kind and size to be built in the Bay Area in 20 years, employed 250 people in construction and is expected to serve as a logistics and distribution center.
      • A 29 acre LEED distribution facility developed with 100% union labor, built at the crossroads of the Silicon Valley and the Port of Oakland
  • Sustainable Real Estate: Gerding Edlen is an SEC-registered investment advisor that manages separate accounts and funds that are focused on the redevelopment and development of mixed-use, multi-family and office properties in high growth urban markets in the US.
    • Property in San Francisco, CA: “ Etta”, Van Ness & Sutter
    • 13 story, 107-unit LEED (Gold) Mixed Use apartment, 9,750 square feet of ground floor retail
    • Located adjacent to Pacific Heights/ Nob Hill, energy savings, one-, two-, three bedroom units
  • Private Equity: Bay Area Council’s Real Estate and Growth Funds (approximately 2002-2012)
    • The Bay Area Family of Funds is considered a national model for regional Double Bottom Line investment initiatives, highlighted by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (the OCC)
    • Over 230 new jobs have been generated, 1,096 jobs have been retained, and over 2,300 new jobs are projected from investments by the Family of Funds
    • 870 for-sale homes being built or renovated, with at least 230 units affordable to purchasers at 80% of area median income or lower
    • Nearly 700 acres of land have been remediated for brownfield development
  • Community Investing: Bay Area Transit Oriented Affordable Housing Fund: www.bayareatod.org

Eddy & Taylor Family Housing
Location: San Francisco, CA
TOAH Fund Financing: $7.2 million
Housing Units: 153
Retail Space: 12,000 square feet

The Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corp. is developing an old parking lot into a 14-story building with affordable housing and retail space planned to attract a grocery store to this underserved community. The site is located just two blocks from the Powell Street BART station, a major transit hub in San Francisco.

  • Green Infrastructure Bonds

Municipal Industrial Revenue Bonds:

San Francisco PUC – Wastewater infrastructure bonds

• $240 million Wastewater Revenue Bond will fund eligible projects in sustainable storm water management and wastewater projects

Green infrastructure is a stormwater management tool that takes advantage of the natural processes of soils and plants in order to slow down and clean stormwater and keep it from overwhelming the City's sewer system
• The first certified green water bond to finance sustainable water infrastructure

• Working to maintain the 100+ year old, 900 mile long combined sewer system and 17 pump stations that collect sewage and storm water
Long term municipal revenue bond for water infrastructure

http://www.ceres.org/press/press-releases/san-francisco-public-utilities-commission-issues-world2019s-first-certified-green-bond-for-water-infrastructure

Proposal to open The Bay Area Center for Place-based Impact Investing: Let’s make it easier to invest locally

The Center becomes the PLACE where collaboration and collective impact begin. By centralizing the core activities like due diligence, resource management, and monitoring of the portfolios, a collaborative team and their investor/partners would have a virtual and physical place to work and network. Members/investors will get to align their mission and financial goals and capital seekers will have a platform for networking and mentoring. Acting as a clearinghouse, the Center can be the home to all sorts of impact investing opportunities, across the capital markets continuum, including:

  • Community -based investment funds: institutional quality asset class specific, multi-manager funds for local impact
  • Social Impact Bonds, Pay for Success contracts, Development Impact Bonds, Environmental Impact Bonds, Health Impact Bonds
  • Mission Related Investing and Program Related Investing by Foundations (MRIs and PRIs)
  • Investment in human capital/development, corporate engagement, bootcamps, and Co-ops
  • Private Equity Funds with Social Impact
  • Social Stock Exchange for B-Corps, etc.
  • Green and Sustainable Infrastructure Bonds
  • Community Development Financial Institutions – local investing, savings, and lending
  • Investment in Cleantech, BioTech, Education, Healthcare, and Fintech
  • Crowdfunding, DPOs, Incubators/Hubs for very early stage investing
  • Long term public private partnerships in education and job training, infrastructure, transit, housing, water, etc.

Next Steps: How do we open the Bay Area Center for Place-based Impact Investing?

  • Get the right people in the room to pledge assets, staff time and funding
  • Develop partners/investors/members
  • Create the professional team and business model for asset management
  • Build real portfolios so the track records can develop to grow assets and scale
  • Develop the virtual clearinghouse platform with database technology
  • Encourage Deal Flow and Gatherings

The Bay Area Center for Impact Investing

The Bay Area is the natural place to build a model for a more efficient channeling of private capital into the regional economy. Let’s do it.

References:

[1] The research paper describing the BAIII was published in the Routledge Handbook of Sustainable and Social Finance with Oxford University: “Regional Impact Investing for Institutional Investors: The Bay Area Impact Investing Initiative,” July 2016

[2] The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco encouraged and published the research working paper: “Impact Investing for Small Place-Based Fiduciaries: The Case Study of the United Way of the Bay Area”. http://www.frbsf.org/community-development/files/wp2012-05.pdf

[3] Financing Sustainable Cities Scan and Toolkit, October 2016, in partnership with HIP Investor: to download the paper: http://usdn.org/public/page/32/Government-Operations

[4] Cornerstone Journal of Sustainable Finance and Banking, “Proximity” (full edition) December 2016 issue: http://cornerstonecapinc.com/2016/11/place-based-impact-investing-how-to-invest-in-your-own-backyard

Impact Measurement: Finding Your Way Through The Maze

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

This is the second in a series of articles about impact measurement for social entrepreneurs.

Social entrepreneurs who are serious about having impact or about attracting capital from sophisticated impact investors face an intimidating array of measurement tools, standards and abbreviations. To help social entrepreneurs find their way through this maze I connected with practitioners and experts.

Laura Callanan, founding partner at Upstart Co-Lab, makes the case for using existing standards rather than inventing your own. “I am a fan of building off what already existing in the field — especially B Lab, GIIRS and IRIS. In the work we are doing at Upstart Co-Lab — connecting impact investors to the creative economy — these existing tools work really well. And using familiar tools makes it easier for us to launch a creativity lens for impact investing.”

Laura Callanan

B Lab is the non-profit that certifies Benefit Corporations. GIIRS is the “Global Impact Investing Rating System” and the acronym is pronounced “gears.” GIIRS ratings are used by impact investors to evaluate social impact; the measurements can be applied at both the company and the fund level. B Analytics, the B Lab entity that does measurement and certifies Benefit Corporations, uses GIIRS standards.

Note that I and others often use the terms Benefit Corporation and B Corp interchangeably, B Corp refers most properly to the certification by B Lab where a Benefit Corporation is a legal entity formed under the rules of a state that allows that form of incorporation.

IRIS is a free product of the Global Impact Investor Network, the GIIN (pronounced like the spirit). IRIS provides standards for measurement that are broadly used within the impact investing community.

Laurie Lane-Zucker

Laurie Lane-Zucker, the CEO and founder of the Impact Entrepreneur Center for Social and Environmental Innovation, adds that using the SDGs, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals also makes sense. He adds, “I am a big fan of the new taxonomy framework that Fourth Sector Networks is in the process of developing for the “for-benefit” or “Fourth” sector.”

Impact investment fund manager, Joel Solomon is Chair of the Renewal Funds; he encourages portfolio companies to seek B Corp certification.

Matthew Weatherley-White

Matthew Weatherley-White, a recognizes expert on impact measurement and co-founder and managing director for the Caprock Group, which manages money for impact investors, agrees. He encourages social entrepreneurs not only to measure their impact with B Lab standards but also to become a certified B Corp (or Benefit Corporation), for three reasons:

  • as a statement of commitment
  • as a stamp of transparency and credibility
  • as a way of supporting the emerging community of social enterprises

“They should then establish a tight group of IRIS-compliant metrics that are quantifiable and material, that will be gathered during the day-to-day operations of the business, and that will provide evidence around the mission of the enterprise,” he continues. He also encourages entrepreneurs to report using the taxonomy provided by his firm’s “iPAR” system.

Lisa Curtis

Social entrepreneurs Lisa Curtis, founder and CEO of Kuli Kuli, says, “One of the first things Kuli Kuli did as a company was to get our B Corp certification. It was tremendously helpful in pushing us to further define how we wanted to operate as a business. We’re now a full-fledged Benefit Corporation and we regularly report on those metrics.”

Daniel Jean-Louis, CEO of Bridge Capital, an impact investing firm focused on investments in his native Haiti, notes that while the GIIRS standards are “pretty good,” entrepreneurs “should establish some of their own standards in addition to those rules.” He points out that sometimes it is hard to fit your impact into an existing model.

Nell Derick Debevoise, founder and CEO of Inspiring Capital, says that which standard you use may depend on your stage of development or your industry. “B Lab is good for very early stage companies because it’s focused on setting up the operations of your company and is relatively simple and user friendly. It’s also more of a consumer-facing certification. GIIRS and IRIS are more investor-facing, so startups looking to raise institutional capital should think about mapping their impact to those standards sooner than later.”

Cecile Blilious

Cecile Blilious, an impact investor based in Tel Aviv, is the founder and managing director for Impact First Investments. She also encourages people to use the B Lab standards. She also notes that using a Social Return on Investment or SROI method is important. She uses Sinzer to help her firm with that. The SROI is a means of measuring value created that doesn’t have an easy financial metric, such as environmental and social benefits.

Matthew Davis, an impact investor focused on Ethiopia, is the CEO of Renew. He says his firm uses the IRIS standards.

Similarly, Gary White, the CEO and co-founder—with Matt Damon—of the non-profit Water.org uses the “IRIS framework to ensure that we are delivering social returns as well as financial returns to investors” for its WaterEquity program that allows investors to fund water projects with an economic return.

Lisa Hagerman, director of programs at impact investment fund DBL Partners, says the firm also uses IRIS metrics, but notes that what is appropriate for each social enterprise will vary depending on the asset class and sector.

Amit Bouri

Amit Bouri, CEO of the Global Impact Investing Network, says more entrepreneurs are using the IRIS standards. “While IRIS was developed to be used by investors for the purpose of measuring the social and environmental performance of their investees, we are increasingly seeing enterprises adopting IRIS for their own impact measurement and management practice.”

He notes that using IRIS measures could make social ventures more attractive to impact investors because it could accelerate the impact due diligence phase of an investment.

More importantly, perhaps, Bouri says that impact measurement can actually improve business performance. “Impact measurement is a defining characteristic of impact investing and has been shown to have significant benefits to organizations that utilize it to inform business decisions.”

Cathy Clark, author and professor, is the director of CASE i3 at Duke. She cautions, “Not every social entrepreneur needs to use a standard or produce an impact report. It’s a choice, dictated by the stakeholders of your enterprise and what level of evidence they are demanding.”

She explains, “We define 5 levels of evidence and 3 paths for impact reporting in our CASE Smart Impact Capital online tools. Using standards is just one of the paths.”

Cathy Clark

She sees a range of demands from investors; using standards helps with comparisons. “The advantage of using standards is giving people some level of comparability at the organizational level, and there are stakeholders who care a great deal about this, including some private investors and some federal and state agencies. All of the other paths allow you to customize more, but you lose some comparability with other ventures. Some stakeholders, like some agencies in the US government, have often decided that they will only invest significantly where higher levels of impact evidence can be shared.

Bobby Turner, CEO of Turner Impact Capital, which invests primarily in affordable housing and charter schools, is also cautious about using standards. “We focus less on impact standards and more on actual impact and the correlation between positive (and possibly negative) [social impact] and financial returns. Similar to LEED certification, while the intent of the standards is well meaning, they are often irrelevant to a particular investment.”

It isn’t necessarily which standards you choose but how you use them, says Stephanie Gripne, founder and director of Impact Finance Center & CO Impact Days and Initiative. “Probably any of [the standards work for now for the larger part of the market. There are many out there. Once these standards are selected by a social entrepreneur, I would ask why these indicators and how exactly they will capture and use the data.”

Breaking from the pack, Topher Wilkins, CEO of Opportunity Collaboration and founder of Conveners.org, says Poverty Spotlight is worth considering as a standard because of its focus on feedback from beneficiaries and on their economic well-being.

Morgan Simon

Some worry that impact standards themselves may not go deep enough. Morgan Simon, managing director at Pi Investments, says, “Impact standards are great for addressing short-term outcomes. It’s important to also keep track of what the long-term, systemic impact of an intervention can be–this may require a greater attention to the structural elements of a business. Who owns it? Does it add more value than it extracts from communities?

She adds, “Impact measurement is absolutely useful—what gets measured, gets managed. Impact measurement is often used to count the occurrence of something, e.g., 1,000 jobs created or 200 homes built. Measuring structural change may require a different set of questions.”

Peter Fusaro, Chairman of Global Change Associates, adds the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board or SASB to the list of standards. The SASB is primarily used for socially responsible investing metrics and is working to become to public companies what the FASB accounting rules are for financial metrics. He adds, “I don’t see one as the dominant standard as of yet.”

Lauryn Agnew

Lauryn Agnew, president, Seal Cove Financial and founder, Bay Area Impact Investing Initiative, shares the view that the standard you should use depends on your situation—and on what you are measuring.

“ESG factors can measure the outcomes of CSR. B-labs often are about balancing corporate behavior and shareholder expectations and governance. Measuring GHG reduction from an investment in solar is an example of measurement but the value of that impact in not fully understood. Certain standards like SASB are helping to define what is the ‘material’ impact so that we do not have to track ‘every’ impact, which can be diluting or detracting to the big picture goals.”

This primer on impact measurement should help you understand the key issues in measurement so you can find your way out of the impact measurement maze.

#impmeas

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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!

RecycleForce: Helping to Reclaim the Value in Electronics and Individual Lives

This is a guest post from Dawn Grimes, Vice President Business & Enterprise Development at RecycleForce

RecycleForce is an Indianapolis based social enterprise – a business with a social mission – offering comprehensive and innovative electronic recycling services while providing life-changing workforce training to formerly incarcerated individuals. Delivering assured destruction and certified recycling, RecycleForce manually de-manufactures, mechanically shreds and separates corporate retiring IT, throw-away consumer electronics, and large scale retail recall and overstock products. Sub-materials are sent to refiners for reclamation and recycling helping RecycleForce to achieve a high – often 100% – recycle rate on e-waste. The metals, plastic and other reusable materials that are sold to refiners help pay for job training programs and employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated men and women, supporting their re-entry back into society.

RecycleForce has experienced tremendous growth not only in recycling and destruction services, but also in job training. In 2006, RecycleForce had two workers who processed 600,000 pounds of material. Today, more than 75 employees process in excess of 11 million pounds of material annually, while getting training and learning skills that transfer to work in environmental services, warehouse operations, logistics and other industries.

Formerly incarcerated individuals face a difficult path upon release. They often leave prison in debt for costs associated with incarceration and/or child support arrearage. Most have no job prospects and few opportunities to earn wages to live, let alone pay user fees for correctional oversight, mandated drug and alcohol testing and counseling/treatment services, or other release mandates. Many also are without family supports and things many of us take for granted, like a place to live, work clothes, and a valid driver’s license. Without these foundational elements, the rate of return to the criminal justice system is incredibly high. Historically, about half of those released to Indianapolis/Marion County from prison return to prison within three years, the majority on a technical rules violation, often involving unpaid fees or restitution.

I have had the incredible opportunity of seeing RecycleForce graduates use what they learned to not only avoid returning to prison, but to thrive and prosper in full-time jobs. RecycleForce graduate, Chris Holt, is one such graduate with a truly remarkable success story.

Coming to RecycleForce in 2013, Chris quickly realized he had an opportunity to develop skills that would enable him to earn a living, and he learned that through building good credit, he could establish himself in a business. He saved for a truck and, in true entrepreneurial fashion, began networking to provide snow removal, lawn care, recycling pick up service and related work around the community. Many of his referrals came from RecycleForce. Today Chris has a 5,000 square foot commercial building which also houses a nonprofit he founded that provides an entrepreneurship program for youth.

RecycleForce serves 300 or more individuals annually, with more than 60% of them being placed in full-time employment, and the longitudinal return to prison rate at RecycleForce is about a third of the national average. Chris is just one example of how RecycleForce’s transitional jobs program changes lives.

Dawn Grimes

About Dawn Grimes:

Dawn Grimes is Vice President Business & Enterprise Development at RecycleForce.

Research Center Works To Prove And Improve Impact Of Social Entrepreneurs

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

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

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, commonly referred to as J-PAL, is based at MIT and seeks to reduce poverty by providing academic research on interventions by social entrepreneurs and others working in the space.

Quentin Palfrey, the executive director of J-PAL North America, worked for the Obama Administration before taking on the role at J-PAL. He notes that the center receives its funding from MIT and other philanthropic donors. The center has a staff of more than 30 full-time employees. He says, “J-PAL North America does not charge for services or generate sales revenue.”

J-PAL works on global poverty. J-PAL North America focuses on poverty in the United States.

A lawyer by training, Palfrey thinks about the work in terms of policy implications. The lessons from J-PAL may be more relevant to social entrepreneurs who may be betting more than some public funding on their ventures.

Quentin Palfrey, courtesy of J-PAL

“From low-income, first-time mothers in South Carolina; to teenagers living and attending school in the most dangerous neighborhoods of Chicago; to inmates struggling with substance use disorders in Kentucky, millions of people across the United States live in poverty and face incredible social challenges as a result,” Palfrey says.

The political climate demands evidence-based approaches to social problems, he says. “Increasingly, policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels are turning to rigorous evidence on what works and why to create policies designed to combat poverty, improve schools, promote health, and address other social issues.”

J-PAL’s primary tool is the randomized control trial or RCT, Palfrey says. “We catalyze and support randomized evaluations, communicate evidence to help translate research into action, and help policymakers build capacity to create and use rigorous evidence.”

Melissa Kearney, Professor of Economics at the University of Maryland and co-chair of the J-PAL State and Local Innovation Initiative, says that the goal is to understand how and why certain interventions are effective. “J-PAL is committed to replication, meaning if a research project demonstrates effectiveness of a particular intervention in one setting, that intervention should be implemented either the same way or with potential tweaks in another setting or with another population,” she says.

“This is a critical aspect to building evidence and to developing an understanding of how and under what circumstances a particular intervention delivers impact,” she adds.

Palfrey sees the pace of the work as its greatest challenge. “Policymakers often make crucial policy decisions based only on anecdote, status quo, or political belief. Replacing this process of creating policy with one based on scientific research can be slow. Moreover, policy priorities and approaches to governance can quickly shift with changes in administrations.”

Contentious politics make the J-PAL’s work more relevant than ever, he notes. “in today’s hyper-partisan political climate, evidence-based policymaking has garnered strong bipartisan support, and the movement for more efficient and effective governance continues to gain momentum.”

Palfrey notes that there are limitations to the center’s work as well. “The randomized controlled trial is an incredibly rigorous and powerful tool for evaluating whether social programs really work, but they are not always appropriate for every setting.”

He identified three specific limitations:

  1. In some cases, RCTs may not yield results as quickly as policymakers would like for decisions that require immediate evidence.
  2. It can be difficult to generalize results from one study to other contexts; for example, a summer jobs program that helps youth avoid violence in Chicago may not work in the same way in Philadelphia.
  3. In some cases, it might not be ethical to do a randomized controlled trial, for example when a program has the resources to serve everyone who is interested.

Kearney adds, “Too often the results of an evaluation are interpreted as a ‘verdict’ on an organization or a particular program. Instead, the social entrepreneurship community should recognize that this type of evidence building work is really an iterative process.”

She says sometimes social entrepreneurs just need to try again. “If a research project yields disappointing results about the impact of a particular program, depending on the circumstance, it might make sense to try to make incremental changes to the way that particular program is implemented and evaluate the revised implementation.”

Palfrey believes the work is a part of helping people out of poverty. “By transforming government and building a movement for evidence-based policy, we can help lift millions in the United States out of poverty. Committing to evidence-based policymaking will require innovating at every level of government and challenging the status quo. I’m confident that by doing so we can allocate our resources in a way that maximizes benefits for those who need it most.”

On Thursday, March 2, 2017 at 1:00 Eastern, Palfrey will join me here for a live discussion about J-PAL’s work and how it can be utilized by social entrepreneurs to increase their impact. Tune in here (at the top of this article) then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

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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!

Entrepreneur Leverages Celebrities’ Influence For Charity

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

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

“If you do a gesture for charity, you should always make sure that it’s from not a press spin, but a natural, organic effort,” John Travolta said at the City Summit and Gala organized by social entrepreneur Ryan Long.

The City Gala held around the Grammys raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities, including Travolta’s own Jett Travolta Foundation, named for his son, who passed away in 2009.

Travolta said his interest in philanthropy began with Katrina. “It was organic. It really was. When Haiti happened, when Hurricane Katrina happened, I had a plane. Nobody was helping them. Why wouldn’t you do it?”

John Travolta with Philanthropist Dale Godboldo, courtesy of City Gala

He also made the case for transparency in charitable work, “Make clear where the money is going so no one ever questions it. You have to have an integrity because it is a known area that could be suspect. You have to have a lot of integrity about admitting and exposing how this gets displayed or distributed.”

Halle Berry, who delivered the keynote address at the Summit, said, “I’ve been an advocate of philanthropic efforts as long as I can remember—for most of my life.”

Berry offered advice for humanitarians, “My advice: take the media training that your team provides you! I recall so many times I’ve walked away from an interview and said to myself, ‘Now why did I say that?’ So prepare for your opportunities, but if you do that, the press can be a powerful way to share the programs you are passionate about.”

Halle Berry with Greg Reid on stage at the City Summit and Gala, courtesy of City Gala

Long has come a long way from his roots to be hobnobbing with the rich and famous.

The City Gala was first held in 2015 and this year expanded to include a full-day Summit. The 2017 event was held on February 11 and 12. This year Berry and Travolta delivered speeches. Quincy Jones was presented with an award. John Paul Dejoria, founder of Paul Mitchell and number 214 on the Forbes 400 list, also presented.

Long chose two charities as the primary beneficiaries of the Gala, “We are tremendously honored to present the 2017 program in support of the International Arts & Philanthropy Foundation (IAP), which provides funding in support of arts, education, early childhood development, as well as the Breed Life program which supports and facilitates the gift of life through live organ donation.”

Ryan Long, courtesy of City Gala

Jeff Timmons of the Grammy-nominated pop group 98 Degrees served as the emcee for the Gala.

City Gala is registered with the State of California Attorney General’s Registry of charitable trusts as a Commercial Fundraiser. Long says, “The entire mission and vision of the City Gala program is to bring business and entertainment heroes together united by their passion for overcoming hard obstacles and for supporting startup and not yet well-known philanthropic causes.”

The event included “a red carpet, silent auction, and a day-long set of presentations and panels by business luminaries from organizations such as NASA, Google, Virgin Galactic and many others,” Long says.

Long says the event was a big success, selling out and raising “hundreds of thousands” for charity. This despite the fact that the scheduled headline celebrity canceled in December due to a conflict, requiring Long and his team to scramble.

For 2018, the Grammys will be moving to New York City so the City Gala will move to Oscar weekend.

On Thursday, March 2, 2017 at noon Eastern, Long and Timmons will join me here for a live discussion about the event, its challenges and impact. Tune in here (at the top of this article) then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

Update March 9, 2017: After posting the article and conducting the interview posted above, a reader wrote to Forbes suggesting that Long donates only 5 percent of revenue collected at his events to charity and that he “pays off celebs and the ones that participate have no idea what they are walking in to.” The reader directed us to Rip Off Report where a variety of related accusations were made. In a rebuttal, Long acknowledged that as of February 2015, he was behind on his taxes and had filed for bankruptcy in 2010 as a result of the 2008 recession. He also acknowledged several arrests and criminal convictions. He also defended the legitimacy and success of past events, saying that $350,000 was donated to charity after the 2014 event.

In an email response, Long noted that his accuser is known to him. With respect to the money for charity, he says, “I lost money personally/professionally again this year… but managed to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the charitable organizations. After years of trying/failing/trying failing, I have evolved and know that it’s simply a matter of time before visions/reality becomes true.”

Dale Godboldo, founder of International Arts and Philanthropy, said by email in response to an inquiry, “IAPF/Breed Life did receive funds from the event and according to our agreements.”

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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!

 

 

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