How wonderful it is to know that there are foundations out there going beyond the traditional; leading in a way that benefits innovative entrepreneurs and in turn society as a whole. The “Change Philanthropy” breakout session brought together three women who are leading the pack in this area- Alicia Korten of ReNual, Mary Stranahan of Needmor Foundation, and Julia Novy-Hildesley of Lemelson Foundation – to discuss high impact giving.
Alicia kicked off with six principles of high impact giving:
- Develop a theory of change
- Match goals to resources
- Use all your resources
- Know your potential grantees
- Amplify grantee voices
- Evaluate Work
She also delved into some of the case studies that can be found in her book Change Philanthropy: Candid Stories of Foundations Maximizing Results through Social Justice. One of the points which was particularly illustrative was that in the financial collapse of the recent past, many foundations lost 40% of their endowment while those who practiced SRI lost 20%. Confluence Philanthropies itself exists solely to promote mission based investing and support for foundations and non-profits.
One of the great things that the Needmor Foundation does is to put money into the communties where their grantees live. By taking out CD’s in those Calvert-screened, local credit unions, this nearly 60 year old family foundation knows that it will be able to have a greater impact on the communities it serves. Mary Stranahan had a lot of expertise to offer. One nugget to take home: “You can make money doing good work.”
Finally, Julia Novy- Hildesley shared how the Lemelson Foundation nurtures innovators acknowledging that prosperity is nurtured by entrepreneurship. The foundation is able to put grant money behind powerful creative business ideas. Support goes to students designing new technology as well as grants for innovative curriculum development. The point is that foundations are not subject to market pressure and can therefore be creative. They are also in a position to take a risk on an early stage social venture.
This post was written for SVN during their spring member conference.