Forum Topics

Investing for Impact

Impact investing addresses society’s most challenging issues by using private capital to support social enterprises. Although still in its infancy, impact investing has garnered the attention of some of the biggest names in finance.

The philanthropic sector, on the other hand, lags behind. According to a survey of 146 of the largest impact investors conducted by JP Morgan and the Global Impact Investing Network, foundations account only for about 9% of the $60 billion in impact investments made by these institutions.

Can impact investing make a significant difference in the work being done by global NGOs? Is it realistic to expect funders to put all of their assets to work toward social change? How do individual nonprofit organizations tap into these types of investments to help them grow their own financial resources? This session will explore the obstacles that keep funders from committing to this type of investment, as well as highlight successful models that have actually made significant social changes.

Listening to Grantees

The traditional relationship between funders and grantees is changing. The old formula, in which grantees hold a subordinate role, is giving way to a more balanced model in which foundations view nonprofit organizations as partners in helping them achieve goals. In fact, more funders now see the benefits of enlisting opinions from their grantees, and designing programs based on that feedback and involvement.

Grantee perception reports are a first step in this new approach to grantmaking. The Fund for Shared Insight takes this a step further by encouraging feedback not just from grantees, but from actual beneficiaries of grants.

This session will explore the latest assessments of how well we’re addressing this issue. Learn about efforts to bring more transparency, empathy and depth to the grantmaking relationship. Hear how funders listen to grantees to understand the ultimate beneficiaries of the work. Become part of the conversation as we discuss how each of us can take steps to fortify philanthropy.

Learning from Failure

Innovators like Google excel because they encourage risk-taking, invite feedback and examine why things don’t work. In contrast, many foundations see failed grants as money wasted, without reflecting on lessons learned. Oftentimes, a foundation’s answer to a failed grant is to discontinue funding.

Part of the mindset stems from the difference between venture capital and philanthropic capital. The former acknowledges the probability of initial failure. The latter is cautious, and seeks to safeguard the legacy of the founding individual or family. Similarly, some people consider government funders as cautious stewards of taxpayer dollars.

This session will examine the value and benefits of constructive failure. Can both grantmakers and nonprofit leaders learn to be honest and open about what doesn’t work? Does a dialogue around the possibility of failure need to happen before a grant award is made? This is still a very rare occurrence in the field of philanthropy but definitely a trend that warrants further discussion and exploration.

Financing Social Enterprise

Social enterprise is one of the hottest concepts in business and philanthropy. Social enterprises have been defined as non-profit or for-profit ventures in which the economic activity is a means toward creating positive social impact. Some of the best minds in business and philanthropy have found in this field an outlet for their creative energy. Today, foundations and philanthropists aren’t just awarding grants, they are investing assets in these initiatives.

Although social enterprise funds have been around for decades, the integrated capital approach – a combination of loans, guarantees, equity, and grants – is fairly new. This conversation will address this new approach.

How can you balance social missions with the bottom line? Suzanne Perry, contributing writer for the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and moderator for two panels at Innovations2016 explores Financing for Social Enterprise in this article for GrantStation's Trend Track.

Funding in Layers

Layered funding alters the traditional single-grantmaker formula by enlisting multiple sources of funding. More than simply aggregating multiple sources of money, though, it involves a strategic alignment of funders for particular projects. A foundation joining with government or business brings different perspectives, ideas and “yes” rules to bear. Philanthropy often forms the first layer, with social investors or government agencies providing additional layers.

In this type of approach, foundations assume the highest risk and ask for the lowest return on their investment, but they play the most significant role as their commitment often provides the leverage point to help secure other sources. Community development corporations are examples of layered funding in action. As tax-exempt 501(c) 3 organizations, they receive grants from government, foundations and individuals to address major social issues in their communities.

Can layered funding be the answer to addressing some of the largest social and environmental problems facing society today? If a diverse set of funders unites around a clear social objective, can it really create systemic change? This session will present case studies of successful layered funding, along with a frank discussion of when layered funding has and has not worked.

June 13, 2016NYU Kimmel CenterNew York City
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Sponsors for Innovations 2016
Foundant technologies
Grant Professionals Association
New Philanthropy Capital
Association for Childhood Education International
K&L Gates

Partners for Innovations 2016
Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy
New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc.
Grants Professional Association: Mohawk Hudson Chapter
Center for Non-Profits