Tag Archives: philanthropy

Does Impact Investment Signal a Paradigm Shift?

There is a fundamental shift in how some are approaching business and philanthropy. Whether you call it impact investing, philanthrocapitalism, or social business, these emerging practices have the potential to be a paradigm shift in our economic landscape. Or do they?

Amy Bell, Executive Director and Head of Principal Investments for JPMorgan’s Social Finance business unit, writes that “impact investing is the deployment of capital with an expectation of financial return, where the success of the investment is also contingent upon achieving a stated social or environmental goal.”

Massive amounts of capital are being “deployed” as Bell describes it. JPMorgan Chase alone has allocated more than $50 million. Goldman Sachs invested $10 million for the US’s first social impact bond. The list goes on.

Is this just a continuation and expansion of corporate social responsibility or is this a deeper change? For decades (if not centuries) nonprofits have encouraged the corporate sector to give back. Nonprofits argue that corporations themselves are economically sustained in many ways because of nonprofits: low-wage workers access discounted healthcare at community clinics and pay reduced-rate tuition at their children’s preschool; higher paid workers are recruited with promises of an area’s operas, cultural life, private schools, and hospitals; and any employee can access a community’s religious services, clean beaches, summer camps, and more.

Eventually, corporations began to catch on and, in large numbers, began partnering with nonprofits through sponsorships, grants and, eventually, cause marketing. Corporations realized that cause marketing could increase sales, increase employee engagement, and could have a positive impact on the community as well. Well-crafted relationships between corporations and nonprofits can lead to very good things for all involved.

But impact investment seems to go a step further. By investing capital in projects through organizations – many of which are for-profit – that create social good and at the same time provide a financial return on investment, impact investing has the potential to fundamentally change the donor’s experience. It completely shakes our business vs. philanthropy mindset. Impact investing says, “We can do both at the same time.” And the underlying assumption is that if we can do both, we should.

But can we do both? In some cases yes. Bell offers the example of Wilmar Flowers. JPMorgan Chase has invested capital in this African-based business with the expectations that Wilmar will grow from purchasing from 3,000 to more than 5,000 African-based small farms, affecting more than 250,000 households. It’s not clear how this arrangement differs from a typical business loan except that, in this case, the business might have previously been considered too high risk. Given Africa’s shaky economic performance, investments like this could be a very positive move towards economic development.

Bell writes that at JPMorgan Chase, “We have increasingly sought to bring the full resources of the firm to bear on these issues over the last several years.” She later writes, “By marrying the expertise within our traditional banking businesses with the financial and philanthropic tools we have available, we are excited about the potential to increase our positive impact and to redefine how we all think about returns.”

There is a delicate balance between maximizing social good and maximizing profit. Imagine walking a tightrope with a barbell in your hand. If one side drops too low, the whole act could fall. If the profit weight is too heavy, the social good is compromised. If the social good weight is too heavy, the lack of financial return may scare future investors. Both goals must be held at equilibrium.

And in some case, we cannot and should not do both. In the wake of 9-11, hundreds of thousands of people were stranded on Manhattan Island. Fear and panic was everywhere. Local fishermen and those with boats self-organized to give people rides to the mainland. 500,000 civilians were rescued in less than nine hours. It was the largest sea evacuation in history. This voluntary organization was completely spontaneous. There was a tremendous return on investment for those who contributed their time and resources, but it was not a financial return.

Is impact investing an emerging paradigm shift? Probably. In fact, there may come a time when the public expects all businesses to operate with a social mission. That day may come sooner rather than later. But the 9-11 boat lift teaches us that the opposite is not necessarily true. Not all social missions can offer financial ROI.

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Online Giving 2012: Your Best Year EVER

Did you know that 1/3 of online giving occurs in December and 22% occurs December 30th and 31st? However, don’t wait until December to think about online giving. . . Relationships need to be cultivated. This is true offline as well as online.

We must develop all web-based competencies – including enewsletters, social media, branding, and search engine optimization – in order to succeed in any online campaign and to truly maximize the December giving push.

I’ve created Online Giving 2011: Your Best Year Ever to help nonprofits harness the power of online philanthropy. Over the course of the year, you’ll master the core competencies needed for success.  Course materials and resources will be provided to help you make 2012 your best online fundraising year ever!

During this year-long web-based course you will:

  • Create your 2012 Online Giving Road Map
  • Develop an engaged social media community
  • Deliver an enewsletter donors wait for
  • Raise funds via a successful online giving campaign

This course is GUARANTEED to increase your online giving in 2012!

Monthly Course Webinars include:*
Jan: Online Giving ~ Are you Ready? (30 min – free)
Feb: Creating Your Roadmap for Online Giving
Mar: Leaving Your Mark ~ Branding, Blogging, & the Web
April: You’ve Got My Ear ~ Donors and Enewsletters
May: Online Cultivation ~ Donors and Social Media
June: The Anatomy of an Ask ~ Designing Your Online Fundraising Campaign
July: Testing the Waters ~ Warming Your Audience with Small Online Asks
Aug: Bonus Class ~ Participants vote on the topic
Sept: PowerHour ~ Review and provide feedback on classmates’ campaigns
Oct: It’s You, Online ~ Using Your Personal Brand to Maximize Fundraising Nov: Final Push ~ Harnessing the best fundraising month of the year
Dec: Bonus Class ~ Participants vote on the topic

*Each webinar is one hour long. Dates are scheduled 2-4 weeks in advance. Don’t worry if you cannot make the date. All webinars will be recorded and emailed to course registrants to review. You won’t miss a thing!

Save $225! Purchase the yearlong series for $275 by January 31st and save $225! That is a $75 savings off of the full price of the year ($350) plus two FREE 30 minute coaching sessions valued at $150.  What a deal!

Click here to register and save $225!

Want more information? The January webinar is free! This webinar will articulate the core competencies needed for a successful online giving campaign. It will lay out the road map for the course and show you exactly what you can do to make 2012 your best year ever.

Click here Register for the January webinar

Class materials: (You won’t find these anywhere else!)

  • Online Giving Roadmap Template
  • Enewsletter Rescue Plan
  • Social Media Strategy Guide
  • Social Media Policy eBook
  • Resources for online giving, enewsletters, social media, and more
  • Access to recorded versions of the webinars
  • And more!

My Guarantee: If you attend every webinar, create and follow your road map for online giving, and you still find that online giving to your nonprofit doesn’t increase by at least 10% in 2012 as compared to 2011, you can choose between 100% of your money back or 3 hours of free coaching.

5 Tips for A ROCK SOLID Enewsletter

Enewsletters are the bread and butter of online philanthropy.
Yes social media is important – indispensable even – in online fundraising. But remember. . . enewsletters allow you the opportunity to control the message, a luxury social media does not afford.

A great enewsletter can

  • raise funds,
  • encourage in-kind donations,
  • inspire volunteer contributions, and
  • increase overall awareness.

If you are considering starting an enewsletter or if you want to revitalize your current one, read on. . .

5 Tips for A ROCK SOLID Enewsletter

1) Start with a good list. Your mailing list is the ticket to success. Make sure everyone has opted in and that you are following CAN-SPAM laws. These laws are a bit more lenient for nonprofits than for-profits but don’t be fooled: everyone must opt-in. It is more valuable to have a short list of highly motivated readers than a long list of people who think you’re spam.

2) Provide excellent content. Only send out enewsletters as often as you can provide excellent content. As with social media, it is important that enewsletters not be sales pitches. Here are some ideas nonprofits have used:

  • Highlight a donor
  • Give a client testimonial
  • Feature a volunteer
  • Provide an update to a noteworthy program
  • Share how things in the world (economy, politics, etc.) affect your clients or your agency
  • Share your expertise in the form of tips and resources for the reader

3) Be consistent. If you send out the enewsletters sporadically, people will forget they have signed up. If they forget they signed up, they will opt-out. Bad news. Instead, send the newsletters consistently. Once a month is a good place to start. Only if you have a lot of new, valuable content, should you consider doing it more often. If you are wondering what days and times to send the enewsletter, consider mid-week (Tues, Weds, Thurs) either late morning or early afternoon. You can experiment and see what days/times work best for your list.

4) Don’t fuss about open rates. If you are getting an open rate of 20-30%, you’re doing a good job. We can always strive for better but remember this: even if people don’t open the email, they still see your name. That bit of brand recognition goes a long way.

5) Cross pollinate. Share your enewsletter on your social media accounts. Include in your email signature line a link to the web version. Add a link to your website. It’s okay to include some of the same content on all of these accounts. Just make sure that the content is appropriate for the space – no 500 word Facebook posts.

Enewsletters remain one of the best and least expensive ways to communicate with donors, clients, and the larger community.

If you’d like assistance setting up or revitalizing your enewsletters, email me today at jenniferamandajones@gmail.com.

Got ideas? Share your best tips below!