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.