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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: March 2019

New Village Capital CEO Shares Her Insights And Vision


Village Capital was founded to invest in social entrepreneurs using a novel, peer-selected methodology. A decade later, under new leadership, it remains committed to those principles.

Allie Burns recently succeeded Ross Baird (who left to start Blueprint Local) as the CEO of Village Capital. She joined Village Capital nearly three years ago after leaving the Case Foundation, working closely with Jean Case on communications surrounding impact investing initiatives.

Allie joined me to talk about three key ideas. First, she noted that investors need to look beyond equity as the primary structure for startup finance. Second, she noted the success of the peer-selection model at Village Capital. Finally, she noted that the peer-selection model not only yields good investments it eliminates gender bias.

Be sure to tune in to the full interview in the players above.

Interview with Allie Burns, the CEO of Village Capital.

The following is the pre-interview with Allie Burns. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

Expert Tips:

Tip #1: Investors Need to “Look Beyond Equity”

Many impact investors support entrepreneurs with equity investments by default because that’s how it’s always been done. Over-reliance on equity can be a mistake. A lot of businesses working in sectors like healthcare, education, financial health, and sustainable food – sectors that have the potential to positively impact livelihoods – don’t have a typical software-as-a-service business model with a clear path to exit in five to seven years. Many are working in highly regulated and complex sectors, and high growth may take 10 years of market-building, a time period that far exceeds the patience of an investor operating a 10-year fund.

Tip #2: Peer Selection Works As A Framework To Evaluate Future Commercial Success

Using peer selection, peer groups of entrepreneurs are able to discern the potential commercial performance of early-stage ventures accurately – and quickly. When looking at the performance of alumni in both the first and second years following a sector-specific program, the final peer-selected rank accurately reflected the subsequent ability of ventures to raise capital and, to a lesser extent, generate revenue. In short, the higher- ranked ventures were able to raise more capital than lower-ranked ventures. Equally notable, entrepreneurs were able to identify potential factors for success relatively quickly – in as short a period as four days.

Tip #3: Peer Selection Mitigates Gender Bias

Despite the fact that women face significant bias in the venture capital process, outcomes appear to suggest that peer selection is less exclusionary. What we found suggested that during the peer-selected investment process, female-founded or co-founded ventures see representation in the ranking process in line with their commercial performance. In other words, the gender bias that commonly occurs within traditional venture capital is mitigated during the peer review process – rather than women getting “crowded out” they are evaluated by their peers based on the merits of their company.

Learn more:  https://vilcap.com/peer/ or https://vilcap.com/capitalevolving/

More about Village Capital:

Twitter: @villagecapital

Facebook: facebook.com/villagecapital/

Linkedin: linkedin.com/company/village-capital/

Website: www.vilcap.com

Village Capital is a global firm that helps entrepreneurs bring big ideas from vision to scale. We are reinventing the system to back the entrepreneurs of the future; a future where business creates equity and long- term prosperity. Since 2009, we have supported more than 1000 early-stage entrepreneurs through our investment readiness programs. Our affiliated fund, VilCap Investments, has provided seed funding to more than 100 program graduates.

Allie Burns. Photo Credit: Village Capital

Allie Burns’s bio:

Twitter: @AllieB

Allie serves as the CEO of Village Capital, bringing more than 16 years of experience working with entrepreneurs and innovators at the intersection of tech and social change. She previously served as a senior executive at Revolution and the Case Foundation, the venture capital firm and private family foundation created by former AOL executives Jean and Steve Case, where she led the organization’s communications and marketing teams. She also held positions at Discovery, AOL and Atlas Venture among others.  Allie is a graduate of Boston University and holds an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management.


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Persist Or Pivot?

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Two of the most axiomatic principles of business success appear to be somewhat in conflict, raising the question of whether it is better to persist or pivot.

Over the past six years, I have hosted over 1,000 different people as guests on my show to talk about social entrepreneurship, impact investing or other ways to change the world for good. That has given me 1,000 opportunities to ask people about the most important lessons they’ve learned.

Time and again, people say that persistence is the key to success.

Investors, however, often point to the pivot as the key. It is a willingness to shift away from the original course to a better one that brings ultimate success.

Social entrepreneurs face a dual challenge in that they have both a social mission and a business strategy. Thus, they have two different fronts on which to consider persisting or pivoting, giving us the following four quadrants:

The four quadrants of persist or pivot. CREDIT: DEVIN THORPE

While the mission and business strategy may align well, it is rare that they line up perfectly. For most social enterprises, financial success is at least somewhat independent of mission.

Consider a hypothetical company that makes solar lanterns intended for use in the developing world, increasing the ability of families to study and work after the sun sets, reducing the use of wood or kerosene. The company’s mission is to improve health and economic outcomes, while reducing deforestation and the use of fossil fuels. For every light the company sells, its mission is accomplished, right?

Now imagine that in our hypothetical, they determine that affluent campers in the developed world are a more profitable market. There are now a variety of options available to them, influenced by whether they wish to pivot only on business strategy or on both mission and strategy.

If executives choose to sell only to campers, they must also choose a new mission because the original mission won’t be accomplished by the strategy pivot. They could choose to sell to both markets and thus persist with their mission, acknowledging that some company resources and returns will no longer be tied directly to the mission. They could even reject the opportunity to sell to campers in order to persist purely in the original mission.

For social entrepreneurs and impact investors, pivoting on mission may seem to be a betrayal of the purpose of the business. On the other hand, a business that cannot make a profit (even a nonprofit needs a surplus of revenue over expenses) cannot persist in fulfilling its social mission for long.

We also see that successful ventures seek constant improvement and innovation. Every new product, product line or market represents a test of the persist or pivot question.

There is no universal answer to the question. Recognizing when you are implicitly asking the question and then bringing it forward for discussion and analysis will make it easier to make the right decision.

Learn my insider secrets for getting media attention for your social enterprise or nonprofit. Click here.


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The Power of Building Key Relationships for Nonprofit Fundraising


Jason Lewis, an expert nonprofit fundraiser and author of The War for Fundraising Talent and How Small Shops Can Win, joined me for a discussion about his insights from the book.

Jason encourages nonprofits to build real relationships with donors who can give significant amounts of money, sharing a story of a career highlight when he mentored a small nonprofit that had established a weak relationship with a big donor and was on the brink of losing her.

With his help, the nonprofit was successful in strengthening the relationship and in obtaining additional funds to support its mission.

Read on and tune in to the interview in the video and audio players above to get the rest of Jason’s insights.

Interview with Jason Lewis, the Owner of Lewis Fundraising.

The following is the pre-interview with Jason Lewis. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

Expert Tips:

Tip 1: At Lewis Fundraising, we want to ensure that organizational leaders share a common understanding of highly-effective fundraising practice in advance of any permanent hiring decisions. This means aligning the board, volunteers, ED, and non-fundraising employees with an understanding of their roles and responsibilities in fundraising, where and how they can make the greatest contributions, and where they can complement the strengths of others.

Tip 2: Increasing fundraising capacity requires that organizational leaders be able to discern between trivial, meaningful and significant levels of giving. The organization’s fundraising philosophy must be informed by a commitment to fewer donors, more meaningful engagement, and direct solicitation. These three deliberate practices are the foundation of a highly effective successful fundraising program.

Tip 3: At Lewis Fundraising, we want to ensure our client’s ability to identify, train, and retain high-capacity fundraising talent. This begins with understanding the type of individual that will best serve in this role; clearly articulating their goals and objectives; and providing consistent, constructive feedback.

Jason’s Book: https://amzn.to/2XTHf4s

Jason Lewis’s bio:

Twitter: @theGenerousLife

Linkedin: Linkedin.com/in/jasonlewis

Facebook: Facebook.com/lewisfundraising

Website: Lewisfundraising.com

Jason Lewis.

Jason Lewis, CFRE & AFP Master Trainer, provides the sector with an often needed contrarian voice, willing to question deeply ingrained beliefs and assumptions of how effective fundraising really works. Whether writing or speaking, Jason challenges the prevailing wisdom about effective fundraising practices, hiring decisions, and donor behavior.  

Jason’s first book, The War for Fundraising Talent, is an honest yet hopeful critique of professional fundraising, intended especially for small shops that find it difficult to consistently achieve their fundraising goals. These organizations are notorious for rapid turnover and high donor attrition which are merely side effects of a much larger problem.  

Jason is the host of The Fundraising Talent Podcast. Every week, Jason and his guest have an honest conversation about what it means to be a fundraising professional. The podcast provides listeners with a better understanding of what it means to be in one of the sector’s critically important yet least understood roles.  

Jason is the creator of The Fundraising Talent Toolbox, introduced in the conclusion of The War for Fundraising Talent, which consists of four planning models designed to ensure that nonprofit organizations can align their board, professional staff and volunteers around a shared understanding of how effective fundraising really works.


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Giving Effectively More Difficult Than Getting, Expert Says


One of the world’s leading experts on philanthropy, Phil Buchanan, president of the Center for Effective Philanthropy and author of the book Giving Done Right, joined me to share insights about philanthropy. His fundamental premise is that giving effectively is more difficult than getting money for most philanthropists.

He first notes that while the nonprofit sector is much maligned–perhaps because there are still problems in the world–it’s work is both important and generally effective. Philanthropy is different from investing–in many ways more difficult–and requires a unique set of skills. He also argues that nonprofits must by their nature collaborate rather than compete.

Tune in to watch the entire interview in the video player at the top of this article.

Interview with Phil Buchanan, the President of Center for Effective Philanthropy.

The following is the pre-interview with Phil Buchanan. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

Three key observations about philanthropy:

1: Despite the fact that it is often wrongly described as broken, the American nonprofit sector and the giving that support it is a defining — and under-appreciated — strength of this country. It fuels our democracy and has contributed to great progress — in civil rights, in global health, and in supporting a vibrant arts and culture landscape in many communities, to name just a few examples. We should not take giving and nonprofits for granted, but we often do.

2: Giving is not like investing and should, instead, be seen as its own unique discipline. Everything — from strategy to performance assessment — is more complex in philanthropy than it is in the world of business.

3: Effective giving requires a rejection of a focus on “uniqueness” that is common in the world of business. Whereas in business, you want your strategy to be yours alone, in giving if your strategy is yours alone, it will fail.

The book:  givingdoneright.org

More about Center for Effective Philanthropy:

Twitter: @CEPData

Facebook: facebook.com/EffectivePhilanthropy/

Website: www.cep.org

Nonprofit organization focused on the development of data and insight to enable higher-performing foundations and individual donors. CEP’s mission is to provide data and create insight so philanthropic funders can better define, assess, and improve their effectiveness — and, as a result, their intended impact. We do this through rigorous research, assessment and advisory services, and our programming.

Phil Buchanan. Photo Credit: Charis Loh

Phil Buchanan’s bio:

Twitter: @philxbuchanan

Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/phil-buchanan-0046b3

Phil Buchanan, president of CEP, is a passionate advocate for the importance of philanthropy and the nonprofit sector and deeply committed to the cause of helping foundations and individual donors to maximize their impact. Hired in 2001 as the organization’s first chief executive, Phil has led the growth of CEP into the leading provider of data and insight on philanthropic effectiveness. CEP has been widely credited with bringing the voices of stakeholders to funders and with contributing to an increased emphasis on clear goals, coherent strategies, disciplined implementation, and relevant performance indicators.

Phil is author of the forthcoming book, Giving Done Right: Effective Philanthropy and Making Every Dollar Count, to be published by Public Affairs, an imprint of Hachette, in spring 2019. He is co-author of many CEP research reports, a columnist for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and a frequent blogger for the CEP Blog. Phil is also co-founder of YouthTruth, an initiative of CEP’s designed to harness student perceptions to help educators and funders accelerate improvements in K–12 schools and classrooms. He holds an MBA from Harvard University and received his undergraduate degree in Government from Wesleyan University. He has been recognized seven times as among the Nonprofit Times “power and influence top 50” – most recently in 2018. In 2016 he was named the Nonprofit Times “influencer of the year.” Phil serves on the board of directors of Philanthropy Massachusetts.

Phil was born in Toronto, grew up in Oregon, and currently lives in Lexington, MA.


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Oscars Are A Celebration Of Social Entrepreneurship And Impact Investing

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

The Academy Awards are and always have been awarded to social entrepreneurs and impact investors. We haven’t always had those terms available to us and even last night as I watched the award show on ABC, I didn’t hear those terms used.

Still, those who make movies with a social message and those who fund them are social entrepreneurs and impact investors.

Films with social messages will always create controversy, but it is in that controversy that the social mission is achieved. It is in that discussion, that issues are elucidated, and social change occurs—even when it is to the chagrin of others.

Let’s look at the roster of films nominated for best picture this year:

  • Black Panther
  • BlackKlansman
  • The Favourite
  • Green Book
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Roma
  • A Star is Born
  • Vice

Not having seen The Favourite, I can’t identify a specific social issue in the film but for all the others, social issues are clear.

Winner, Green Book, took on racism and homophobia in a single film. Criticized by some for perpetuating the narrative of a white savior, the film profiles a racist hired by a gay, African American musician who needed a driver and bodyguard for a tour through the south. The winning producers were Jim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly—who also directed the film—and Nick Vallelonga.

Black Panther, a classic Marvel superhero film, casts Africa and Africans as the heroes in what many felt was for the first time. With an almost all-black cast, director Ryan Coogler had a dramatic effect in Hollywood. Setting box office records, the film proved international and not just American audiences had been craving such an empowering film. Nominated for a total of six awards, it notched three wins for Best Original Music Score (Ludwig Goransson), Best Costume Design (Ruth E. Carter) and Best Product Design (Hannah Beachler and Jay R. Hart).

Spike Lee poses backstage with the Oscar® for adapted screenplay during the live ABC Telecast of The 91st Oscars® at the Dolby® Theatre in Hollywood, CA on Sunday, February 24, 2019. CREDIT: MIKE BAKER / ©A.M.P.A.S.

BlackKlansman, Spike Lee’s film, tells the unlikely story of a black police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan, dealing with a range of racial issues social issues. Spike Lee won the award for writing (adapted screenplay) along with Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott. Lee’s impassioned acceptance speech focused on the 2020 election and garnered an angry tweet from President Trump.

Bohemian Rhapsody, winner of four awards, including best actor, Rami Malek; best sound mixing, John Casali, Tim Cavagin and Paul Massey; best film editing, John Ottman and best sound editing, Nina Hartstone and John Warhurst. The film celebrated the band Queen and dealt with the lead singer Freddie Mercury’s sexuality and immigrant heritage. Controversy swirls around director Bryan Singer, whom Malek failed to mention in his acceptance speech.

Roma, which won the award for best foreign language film, is set in 1971 Mexico City and focuses on the life of a maid. Putting the lens on universal class issues, the film has found a wide international audience. The film was directed by Alfonso Cuarón.

A Star is Born, (spoiler alert) the third and many would argue best incarnation of the story as a film, deals with a variety of personal issues and the difficulties of rising and falling fortunes and romance. Starring Lady Gaga and director Bradley Cooper, the film also highlights the impact of alcoholism and suicide. The film fails to confront those issues, however, relegating them to the role of context, like set and props.

Vice is an unconventional biopic about former Vice President Dick Cheney and his ascension to unusual power in the George W. Bush White House. Directed by Adam McKay, the film was nominated for eight awards, but took home only one statue for best makeup (Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe and Patricia Dehaney-Le May). Overtly political, the film includes discussion of a variety of social issues, including LGBTQIA rights.

Both Hollywood and independent filmmakers continue to shape the way we view the world, the discussions we have and the decisions we make. Those who make the films truly are social entrepreneurs and those who fund them have earned the moniker impact investor.

Learn my insider secrets for getting media attention for your social enterprise or nonprofit. Click here.


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Hear What the World’s Leading Authority on Kindness Has to Say


Jacklyn Lindsey knows more about kindness than any living human.

Her organization, Kindness.org, seeks to be the singular authority on kindness, including scientific research on the benefits and results of kindness.

Her goal is to catalyze more kindness everywhere. Her theory of change concludes that all social problems–even environmental problems–can be positively impacted by greater kindness.

Be sure to watch the full interview with Jaclyn in the player at the top of this article.

Interview with Jaclyn Lindsey, the Co-founder & CEO of Kindness.org.

The following is the pre-interview with Jaclyn Lindsey. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

For-profit/Nonprofit: 501(c)3 Nonprofit

Revenue model: Through donations with an intention to expand to fee for service

Scale:

  • Total views, including our viral videos uploaded natively to other sites: 144,806,804
  • People reached for our posts, graphics, videos, including our viral videos uploaded natively to other sites: ​168,004,506
  • Facebook Followers:​ 268,629
  • Twitter Followers: ​3777
  • Instagram Followers: ​8533
  • Email list: ​25,044 Subscribers
  • Number of Activators*: ​820
  • Activators are from ​6 different continents, 172 Recognized countries, 193 “locations/nations”
  • Number of Citizen Scientists*: ​461
  • Citizen Scientists are from ​6 Continents, 47 Countries, 37 States (+DC)

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

There was a gap between research and how to translate the results into real-world application. We exist to take academic findings and develop tools and programs to effectively and measurably contribute to a kinder world. The real problem is that there are many issues plaguing our society from bullying to loneliness to stress at work all of which have a profound impact on our mental health. Our research has shown that a kind act is one of the most effective ways to simultaneously improve the well-being of you and another individual. Kindness also effects your happiness and contributes to lower stress. Everything we do is geared towards motivating people to choose kindness more often, to make it their default when possible.

More about Kindness.org:

Twitter: @kindness_org

Facebook: facebook.com/kindnessorg/

Instagram: @kindnessorg

Website: kindness.org

At kindness.org, we integrate the science of kindness into the structures of our lives. Our mission is to educate and inspire people to choose kindness. Kindness is a choice, and so our work is about making it easier and more available for us to choose kindness in our everyday lives.

Jaclyn Lindsey. Photo Credit: Mancel Lindsey

Jaclyn Lindsey’s bio:

Twitter: @jaclyndsey

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/jaclyn-lindsey-1457a141/

Instagram: @jaclyndsey

Jaclyn Lindsey, co-founder and CEO of Kindness.org, is a strident believer in kindness as one of humanity’s greatest assets. Recognizing this unique moment in history, a moment in which we can now leverage altruistic science, technology and a global network to bring kindness to the forefront of society, Jaclyn co-founded Kindness.org. By building an awareness of kindness into our social structures, such as work, school and online, a scalable model for social change can be made. Using research and learnings, Jaclyn and her co-founders designed Kindness.org to inspire communities around the world with the power of kindness. On the local level, their workplace and educational programs are designed to cure our isolationism, bridge our differences, and eliminate bullying from within our communities. From the 2017, NGO Expo to NBA’s headquarters, Jaclyn can be found illuminating the role kindness can play in creating more happiness amongst us and within us. Prior to founding Kindness.org, she spent almost a decade in the NGO space, where she helped to raise more than $100M. Prior to launching Kindness.org, she served as the Director of Key Relationships for charity: water. In her role, Jaclyn saw firsthand how an out-of-the-box organization with top talent can create systemic and widespread change in the world. Currently, she sits on the board of Children in Conflict and is an advisor to Creative Mint and Expectful.


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70M People Are Counting On This Social Entrepreneur To Succeed

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

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

John Kluge, 35, founder and managing director for the Refugee Investment Network or the RIN, created this matchmaking service between impact investors and impact actors in the refugee space with a key group of people in mind: the 70 million refugees and internally displaced people in the world.

With refugees spending an average of 26 years in camps, he says, this is a global crisis that is growing. Millions of refugees were born in camps and have never lived anywhere else. Without a change in current trends, the number of refugees globally could approach the current population of the United States by 2030.

“If you’re displaced for decades and you are not allowed to work and not allowed to move freely (as is the case for millions of refugees and displaced people around the world), you are not living. You are surviving,” Kluge says, noting that he sees this as a social justice issue.

John Kluge CREDIT: REFUGEE INVESTMENT NETWORK

Refugees are usually prevented by their status from enjoying the rights and privileges of citizens. They lack permission to work and sometimes even to start a business.

Hoping to help advance a shift at scale, “The RIN works to bridge the gap between an increasing number of investors interested in refugee investments and the growing ecosystem of refugee entrepreneurs and ventures,” Kluge says.

Launched in 2018, the RIN, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, operates on a combination of grants and fee-for-service revenue associated with its matchmaking services. The organization is not a registered broker-dealer and does not direct investments for investors; instead, it’s working to help investors find projects and opportunities that are a good fit for their impact goals and investment strategies.

“I think that there are specific funds and partners in financial services or large multilateral institutions, development finance institutions in particular, who are looking for more hands-on support in structuring new products or new funds that would support forcibly displaced people,” Kluge says. “That’s a service that we can provide for a fee.”

The investments being made in refugees have a measurable impact but also have demonstrated attractive financial returns, he says.

For example, he says two Liberian refugees in New York in the 90s started a soap business just to earn a living. Their business was built around shea butter imported from Liberia and ultimately built a large workforce there. When Unilever acquired the business called Sundial Brands in 2017, it had revenue of approximately $240 million.

The RIN has a partnership with Kiva I highlighted in an article last year. Data from Kiva suggest that refugees are just as likely to repay their loans as other Kiva customers, if not slightly more likely.

Refugees tend to be more entrepreneurial than others. Kluge notes that in the US alone, more than 180,000 businesses are run, founded or operated by forcibly displaced people.

Natasha Freidus, CEO and co-founder of NeedsList, a startup focused on refugees that receives help and advice from the RIN, focuses on this entrepreneurial spirit of refugees.

“Access to capital is a major challenge for refugees who often have trouble even getting a bank account set up in host countries.,” she says. “The Refugee Investment Network is not only highlighting this problem, they are bringing investment solutions that recognize the inherently entrepreneurial spirit of refugees, moving away from traditional models of aid, a long overdue move.”

Investing in opportunity for refugees domestically and around the world represents an opportunity for impact as well as for financial returns. Kluge is excited to match more money to projects to drive both.

Ruma Rose, the founder of Humanitarian Ventures, is a member of the RIN and serves on its steering committee. She says addressing the refugee crisis will require new tools and business models. “That doesn’t just manifest out of thin air.” She points to the RIN as the answer.

We need someone to help connect refugee entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs supporting refugees, to investors, mentors, and technical assistance. We need refugee and migration specific tools, frameworks, and metrics and we need these open-sourced for the impact investing community. We need market leaders like the Calvert Impact Fund or Bain Double Impact to enter the market, but they’re not experts on refugees or migration and need a partner they can trust to advise them on impact. Even governments like Mexico need help developing a strategy for inclusive investment. This is a lot of work. It’s hard, it’s important, and it’s almost always undervalued. But someone has to do it; thankfully, that’s exactly what the RIN is doing.

Learn my insider secrets for getting media attention for your social enterprise or nonprofit. Click here.


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Nonprofit Works With Individual on Autism Spectrum to Realize Potential and End Isolation


Dr. Heidi Stieglitz Ham, an expert in cognitive psychology with a focus on autism, is working to put adults on the autism spectrum in greater control of their lives. The nonprofit she founded, Spectrum Fusion, works to help provide meaningful, strategic connections to people who often feel isolated and alone.

She calls the experience a Reactor Room. By working with an adult on the spectrum to identify a dream, goal, business idea or creative desire, the organization builds a team of reactors to hear and react to the idea.

The reactors, as the audience members are called, then work to help the individual develop or refine a plan to bring the vision into reality. The exercise serves to transform lives both by helping the individual to realize their full potential and by connecting them with a community of support so they are no longer isolated.

Interview with Heidi Stieglitz Ham, the Founder and CEO of Spectrum Fusion.

The following is the pre-interview with Heidi Stieglitz Ham. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

For-profit/Nonprofit: 501(c)3 Nonprofit

Revenue model: Spectrum Fusion will generate revenue from four primary sources

1) Corporate sponsorship. Corporations, in a move toward greater inclusion, are mindful of the value of neurodiversity in their workforces. Spectrum Fusion provides valuable training and orientation to corporations poised to embark on this forward-thinking approach to expanding their employment bases. In addition to direct consulting fee income, corporate sponsors will support our efforts so that we can conduct and expand our Reactor Room program. The Reactors completing this program have activation plans that often flange up to the needs of the corporate employers.

2) Grants. We are vigorously pursuing funding from the expansive philanthropic community in the greater Houston area. We are providing a solution completely unique to adults on the autism spectrum that are not offered in any other venue. Our research outcomes will be presented to foundations and charities.

3) Direct contributions. It is rare to find anyone in the community at large that is not touched directly or indirectly by a person on the autism spectrum. Our experience thus far is that there is a willingness to support our efforts financially and through volunteerism by individuals.

4) Social enterprises. Adults on the spectrum are creative, original and inventive. We provide a platform and an incubator for many of these ideas to come to fruition in the form of business enterprises. While we believe it is important for all individuals developing marketable concepts and ideas to retain intellectual property rights and earn income as their businesses are successful, Spectrum Fusion will also develop an enterprise of its own to earn a revenue stream.

Scale: At the present, Spectrum Fusion in an early stage of development, receiving its 501c 3 status in July, 2018. Three Reactor Room events have been piloted to demonstrate proof of concept. We are currently collaborating with Rice University School of Social Sciences to measure the outcomes of our program and elucidate the factors that contribute to success for adults on the spectrum. We are expanding our outreach through social media, mainstream media, and our community connections. The Reactor Room program is trademarked and licensed and this is a concept that that can be brought to cities around the country. The Reactor Room program requires three people to be hired and trained to follow through on the connections of the Activation plan. At the present time there is one paid case manager and four volunteers supporting the day-to-day operations of Spectrum Fusion. Dr. Heidi Ham, the founder and CEO is not drawing a salary until the funding and cash flow reach sufficient levels. There are currently three social enterprises being fostered and developed by the Reactors of Spectrum Fusion.   Our first corporate training program is being negotiated at this time with a roll-out anticipated in the next six months. At Spectrum Fusion we believe in embracing cognitive differences and unleashing the potential of adults on the autism spectrum, to create a powerful and neurodiverse workforce. We are not alone. Companies around the globe now realize the economic advantages and the enormous value of hiring neurodivergent adults. Companies including Microsoft, SAP, Ford Motor, DTX, and Hewlett-Packard Australia have developed programs to attract the talent of these individuals. We are now forming collaborations in the oil and gas industry and developing highly specialized programs to attract, hire, and retain a neurodiverse workforce. The program restructures the interview process and streamlines the onboarding, job training, and mentoring processes to create environments that are conducive to a variety of cognitive strengths and styles. Led by Dr. Heidi Ham, PhD, Spectrum Fusion is looking to partner with companies to launch a pilot program to hire and retain new employees as well as provide training for the organization to create successful and lasting outcomes.

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

Social impact means that you are addressing a significant social problem,. In our case, the social challenge is that children on the autism spectrum are reaching adulthood in record numbers, and society is not prepared to meet the needs of these individuals.

More about Spectrum Fusion:

Twitter: @Spectrum_Fusion

Facebook: facebook.com/SpectrumFusionUS

Website: www.spectrumfusion.org

Spectrum Fusion is a 501 C (3) non-profit organization designed to improve the quality of lives of individuals with autism, not only by raising awareness but also through harnessing the power and the energy of collaboration and community engagement. We are making the world a better place for adults on the autism spectrum by unleashing their hidden potential and transforming lives as we remove the barriers to important connections necessary for opportunities for these individuals.

Heidi Stieglitz Ham

Heidi Stieglitz Ham’s bio:

Twitter: @DrHeidiHam

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/heidi-stieglitz-ham-phd-7a185b2a

Instagram: @spectrumfusion

Dr. Heidi Stieglitz Ham is a social entrepreneur, clinician, researcher, and published author. She completed her undergraduate and graduate studies in Human Communication Disorders and graduated with her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Edinburgh in 2010 specializing in autism. Dr. Stieglitz Ham is a dual-certified speech pathologist in both the US and Australia. After completing her Ph.D., she taught and conducted research at the University of Queensland before moving to Western Australia.

After years of listening to the the concerns of parents sharing their stories regarding the lack of opportunities and positive outcomes for their adult children, she created a vision grounded in the concepts of fostering a sense-of-belonging, forming a community, embracing the science of hope, and helping adults on the spectrum find their purpose. This conceptual vision was presented at TEDx Perth in 2014. Dr. Stieglitz Ham founded Spectrum Fusion in 2014 in Australia, and in 2016 brought her concept of a community-based approach to working with adults on the autism spectrum to the US. She launched The Reactor Room: ‘A Growth Tank’ for Adults on the Autism Spectrum designed to create new and innovative opportunities for these individuals. It is the only program of its kind.


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Novica Delivers Handmade Products and Social Impact at Scale


Novica is delivering handmade items from artisans around the world to customers here in the United States. This has enabled them to send almost $90 million to those producers in the developed world, creating a sustainable model and impact on diverse communites around the globe.

The business started with a focus on serving the artisans. The company operates offices scattered around the globe to provide a presence that allows locals to have direct access to an affluent market.

Founder Roberto Milk partnered with National Geographic to launch Novica. The partnership continues today.

Interview with Roberto Milk, the CEO and co-founder of Novica.

The following is the pre-interview with Roberto Milk. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

For-profit/Nonprofit: For-profit

Revenue model: we are a retailer

Scale: To date, NOVICA has sent more than $89.1M to artisans around the world.

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

Connect artisanal craftsmen from all over the world with a marketplace to sell and share their goods with a reach they would never normally have.

More about Novica:

Twitter: @novica

Facebook: facebook.com/novica/

Website: www.novica.com

NOVICA is a company based in Santa Monica established to create a fair trade global marketplace.

Roberto Milk

Roberto Milk’s bio:

Twitter: @robertomilk

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/roberto-milk-1686/

Instagram: @novica

When Roberto and his friends and family set out to establish NOVICA, nobody believed that they’d be able to simultaneously establish offices around the world, pay artists more than they’d ever earned for their goods, and ship products from all around the world — all while keeping prices down for customers.

It wasn’t until Roberto attended Stanford University and met his future wife Mina Olivera, however, that the final cast members stepped onto the scene: his future mother-in-law, Armenia, and his roommate, Jose. Together with Charles and Andy, they hatched the idea for NOVICA.

Roberto’s postgraduate years, meanwhile, brought the experience necessary to bring the idea for NOVICA to life. After graduating with honors with a major in international relations, Roberto worked as an investment banker on Wall Street and became a chartered financial analyst, learning enough about the world of retail and e-commerce to launch a revolutionary import and development model in 1999.

Besides loving everything handmade, one of Roberto’s biggest hobbies is talking to shamans in NOVICA regions to figure out the latest ingredients to add to his healthy herbal concoctions. He’s also a competitive soccer player (he played semi-pro), fashion photographer (photographing many of NOVICA’s own catalogs), and lives in Los Angeles with his wife Mina, and their four children (yes 4!).


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Financial Services Nonprofit Innovation Brings New Opportunity To Impact Investors


Impact Shares is an innovative nonprofit financial firm that has created several exchange traded funds or ETFs that ordinary investors to easily purchase in their existing stock portfolios.

I am so excited about this opportunity I intend to add these to my personal investment portfolio. While my purchases will be small, I’ll wait a few days before I make my investments to avoid any suggestion of front-running–a serious Wall Street “no-no.”

The funds are designed to align with specific development goals. The mission of each fund is developed in partnership with a nonprofit working on that issue area.

Impact Shares has issued exchanged traded funds in collaboration with The NAACP Minority Empowerment ETF (Ticker: NACP), the YWCA Women’s Empowerment (Ticker: WOMN) and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Ticker: SDGA).

Interview with Ethan Powell, the Founder of Impact Shares.

The following is the pre-interview with Ethan Powell. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

For-profit/Nonprofit: 501(c)3 Nonprofit

Revenue model: We are a nonprofit. Our funds are self-sustaining and represent another revenue stream for our collaborating social advocacy firms.

Scale: We have roughly $10mn under management and have received 1.5mn in grant assistance from the Rockefeller Foundation’s innovative finance group.

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

Alignment of capital allocation with credible social investment strategies which elevate our collaborating social advocacy group’s brands as the ambassador’s of their issues to the private sector.

More about Impact Shares:

Twitter: @ImpactETFS

Facebook: facebook.com/impactshares/

Website: www.impactetfs.org

Impact Shares which is a 501(c)(3) SEC registered investment advisor and fund sponsor. We work with leading social advocacy organizations to launch investment products that encourage the private sector to align their investment practices with specific social outcomes:

  • YWCA Women’s Empowerment
  • NAACP Minority Empowerment
  • United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

This new approach aligns capital to cause while striving to track the broad equity market.

Ethan Powell.

Ethan Powell’s bio:

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/ethan-powell-cfa-cpa-66852a25/

Mr. Powell has spent over two decades in financial services, primarily in Hedge Fund and Private Equity. Most recently Ethan founded Impact Shares. Impact Shares is a collaboration of leading financial service and non-profit organizations providing single social issue ESG solutions. Impact Shares has issued exchanged traded funds in collaboration with The NAACP Minority Empowerment ETF (Ticker: NACP), the YWCA Women’s Empowerment (Ticker: WOMN) and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Ticker: SDGA).

Additionally, Ethan serves as the Chairman of the board for a $4 billion mutual fund complex and is a finalist for 2016 mutual fund director of the year. Previously, Mr. Powell was the Chief of Product and Strategy at Highland Capital Management Fund Advisors, L.P. In this role he was responsible for evaluating and optimizing the registered product lineup offered by Highland Mr. Powell also served as the portfolio manager of the Highland ETFs and worked with other portfolio managers and wholesalers on the appropriate positioning of strategies in the market place.

Prior to joining Highland in April 2007, Mr. Powell spent most of his career with Ernst and Young providing audit and merger and acquisition services. Mr. Powell received an MS in Management Information Systems and a BS in Accounting from Texas A&M University. Mr. Powell has earned the right to use the Chartered Financial Analyst designation and is a licensed Certified Public Accountant.


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