Who is Woody Tasch?

Utne Reader named Woody Tasch one of their 25 Visionaries of 2010 while Reuters and Entrepreneur Magazine placed Slow Money alongside microlending and credit unions on their watchlist of 5 Financing Trends for 2011.

Woody Tasch will be in Portland, Oregon to open ReVisioning Value (ReVV2011) March 7&8 – a how-to conference for economic and social innovators where ideas move to action. Introduced by Gretchen Garth of 21acres, the morning will stand out as a watershed moment for those interested in slow money, slow food, organic gardening, and local agriculture. A wonderful chance to hear from these visionaries who are helping to grow a more just and sustainable economy. Join us in Portland at the beautiful Gerding Theater. Tickets are still at an early bird discount (until February 10), and can be purchased here.

Big Ideas for Stronger Nonprofits

Tired of writing grants and turning inside out to meet someone else’s requirements for funding? Dreading the next all-day strategy retreat? Interested in the emerging trends in nonprofit sustainability? Want to improve how your organization tracks and shares evidence of your impact? Nonprofit leaders (including board members) seeking renewed ideas and better strategies must attend ReVV2011 March 7&8 in Portland, OR.

ReVV2011 promises to be the perfect jumping off point for new nonprofit leadership. Learn new trends, tools, and strategies for nonprofit longevity and impact. From planning and decision-making to financial sustainability and measuring outcomes, nonprofit leaders in organizations of all sizes will hear the best and most promising ideas for improving their long-term impact.

When should a nonprofit seek a loan? Nonprofits are launching income-generating ventures more and more, and a loan can be the exact right thing to do. Learn the new sources of loan capital for nonprofits, and what new entities are coming forward to help. You’ll learn of new opportunities in Oregon state as well as how organizations like Calvert Foundation and RSF Social Finance can become partners in your effort.  Learn who’s ready to be on your side at the outset.

Next, what about launching a wholly-owned subsidiary as an income-generation strategy? This approach is growing among nonprofits as a means to increasing mission and market share. Why not increase impact and income? What are the legal issues and potential pitfalls compared to the possible gain? Experts will describe the strategy, share examples, and then guide attendees through a hands-on, how-to workshop. Bring your team.

Finally, what about core strategy and planning? Entrepreneurship researcher Rob Wiltbank will describe the astonishing results of his research on how the most successful entrepreneurs create results. It will surprise you! While this may sound like a session for the most profit-driven businessman, it will give the nonprofit leader a whole new outlook on planning well for doing good.

SOCAP/Europe and ReVV2011

OK, so I’d love to go to Europe to attend SOCAP and rub elbows with finance and entrepreneurial innovators, but I can’t, and I don’t have to. Kevin Jones sent out his newsletter recently, and I just have to quote him here. He’s talking about what has been happening in the impact funding world, and as usual, his Southern way with words inspires me to share.

“Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve”… “is selling some of the highest priced carbon in the world. Coming to understand why they can charge that premium doesn’t just make environmentally minded funders understand the importance of poverty alleviation. It also forces social-first funders to understand the linked nature of environmental value. It requires two siloed groups to use a new set of lenses, borrowed from the other.” [my emphasis]

Yea brother… The lenses borrowed from the other silo. Once again, the environmental and social are held up, almost in surprise, when they are shown to be genuinely connected. These are big projects, big global deals, to be sure, but deep in the grassroots still.

Is it because the founder’s passion falls into one or the other camp or silo? That the original glorious vision is actually the problem? I wonder if we might force ourselves to make the connections. Stop and ask yourself which “camp” you’re in, and where the natural and obvious connections can be found. What if each mission enterprise and nonprofit spent one of those planning retreats on finding the bigger picture, using the lens of the other.

No one living on soil, farming for healthy food, working to feed children, saving to send them to school, hoping the water they drink won’t kill them, or making choices about daily life anywhere sees the environment and the social aspects of life as separate. Recently, I again heard the statement, “…climate change is all that matters, poverty is no longer the priority.” Could we possibly have made them competitors? Really? <Sigh>

But he goes on!

“Likewise, Grassroots Business Fund’s migration from a non-profit experiment to a scalable for-profit $60 million impact investment fund while retaining all the deep mission focused value of the non profit’s technical assistance requires investors to understand donor value mixed with a deal that offers real financial return. Again, a set of lenses to see the blended value created by non profit and for profit capital coming to the table in new ways is what’s needed to get the picture.”

The nonprofit experiment (aren’t they always?) turned into a 60 million scalable venture. And because of its blended way of thinking, they are successful. This set of lenses will be shared here in Portland, Oregon. Attend the ReVV2011 conference where experts will offer in-depth sessions on how-to do this. You return to your cities and organizations to cultivate this kind of critical cross-sector value, and help it take root.

For Tickets

Mission Markets Founder Presents to NW LNII

Mike Van Patten, a 20-year veteran of Wall Street, recently launched a platform for impact investing, defined broadly as making money while also making a difference. Mission Markets is a brilliant idea–a gift to the future really. It is also the first of its kind… An emerging, disruptive innovation, the kind we claim we want. Innovation is often not created, but recognized. We should recognize this opportunity and make it not just an adjunct to “real” investing, but drive it to be a mainstream strategy for economic and community development. 

“This is new infrastructure”, he says, “but it needs content at all points of the investment opportunity. It is designed to build on the trend of impact investing that Rockefeller Foundation, JP Morgan, and the Global Impact Investment Network  believe will reach 400bn to 1trillion in the decade.”

Mike presented to the NW-LNII group in Portland, Oregon, a new group that includes a wide range of professionals, from the Mayor’s Office to academia, nonprofits, business incubators and funders. It was exactly the kind of cross-sector, cross-pollination we must cultivate in order to grow hybridized, multiple-return enterprises. Amy Pearl opened the session my sharing the five critical gaps we must fill, and then introduced Mike and Mission Markets as filling one of those five. One seeded, four to grow.

Mike and his team will be here in March for ReVV2011.  They will offer a two-hour session on how to engage on the Mission Markets platform–a how-to rather than an overview. ReVV2011 is designed as a how-to conference on this kind of change, and Mission Markets is only one of many sessions that will help us integrate innovation.

Imagine you’re a business that makes a better window that saves energy, or an investment firm that only invests in organic, sustainable agriculture, or an accredited investor wishing to explore a wide spectrum of impact investing opportunities. Mission Markets is for you. Join us at ReVV to dig into making this vision a reality.

Social Entrepreneurship at Willamette University MBA Program

It’s the first night of class at Willamette’s Atkinson Graduate School of Management. It’s a class on Global Social Entrepreneurship. I have 15 or so students who are interested in exploring what an MBA might lead to… world changers? We’ll see. What should they hear about, what will spark their interests in making a difference and making a livelihood. Next week we’ll hear from them. Ideas? Send them my way…