Lemelson ReVV Sponsor

The Lemelson Foundation has joined a host of others who see the connections between their work and the ReVisioning Value conference in Portland, OR, March 7&8. The agenda of cross-sector collaboration and inventive thinking towards problem solving is perfectly aligned with their mission, and offers a chance to support an international event happening right in their backyard.

Lemelson Foundation ”improves lives through invention,” an apt statement for ReVV2011. With Henry Petroski joining us to talk about the role of the engineer in problem solving, the connection is elegant. “While science studies what is,” he says, “engineers create what doesn’t yet exist.”

We welcome the Lemelson Foundation as a partner in thinking about “what doesn’t exist yet” as we seek new solutions and strategies to our growing concerns, bringing talent, finance, and experience to the challenge.

We need designers, tinkerers, engineers, and inventors to gather together with us to invent a future we can all live with.

Learn more about the conference program.

engineeringforchange at ReVV2011

It’s all about a gathering together.

Can there be anything better than learning of the allies and colleagues suddenly on your side? Or, am I on their side? Or, perhaps, we are all on the same side now, confounded (or inspired) by a common enemy. Global crisis and backyard sadness. And there they are, the people you didn’t expect to meet who are helping you move that mountain with their own kind of shovels and buckets.

Engineering for Change is a project of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). Just what does it mean that a standards organization is trying to solve global problems? It means we have a new ally.

E4C just came out of beta, and is being lauded for its vision and efficiency-building objectives. It cuts across discplines, engineering and otherwise, to connect needs with solutions. We will get to hear about it, and learn how to use it, at this year’s ReVisioning Value conference. I am delighted we will have Tom Loughlin, the visionary behind the online space e4c.

He is joined by another astounding problem solver and visionary, Henry Petroski, noted author and engineer’s engineer. His latest book is a must read: “The Essential Engineer: Why Science Alone Will Not Solve Our Global Problems.”

And, we are also graced with others in the design and problem-solving community! Heather Fleming of Catapult Design will join us, leading a session on problem solving and design thinking.

It is a unique opportunity to be inspired by and meet up with new allies in the global project of problem solving.

Learn cutting edge thinking and strategies. Buy your ticket now. Use the secret code: friendsandfamily for a 30% discount! SHHHHH. This is for you only.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Mission Markets and ChangeXchange

We are excited to announce the beginning of a partnership that will improve the funding ecosystem for social and environmental enterprise. As reported on February 1st in Sustainable Business Oregon , two social innovations will link up to create a connected capital channel. ChangeXchange, founded by Springboard Innovation, is designed to help in the launch of corporations intended to improve communities. Listers on ChangeXchange must be designed for financial sustainability rather than dependence on grants. Currently, ChangeXchange only accepts not-for-profit corporations, but will launch in late 2011 ready for B-corps and L3Cs.

Mission Markets is designed to offer an online marketplace for investors seeking social and environmentally focused enterprises in which to invest. Designed for accredited investors, it offers a unique space to make connections. “It is infrastructure that we needed,” says Mike. It is the first of its kind.

ChangeXchange is for community members to provide support for a social innovator, often right in their own city, by “investing their share” through microphilanthropy. This helps launch the idea, paying for one-time legal fees, to develop curriculum, print marketing materials, and any number of typical start-up costs.  Mission Markets is a place where, with appropriate growth and readiness, these venture might move on to –the next stop on the path to growth. As we build this channel, we can increase knowledge of the successful entities, and build a “track of impact investing”. We call it connected capital, and it is an essential piece of the social innovation ecosystem. And it will require more partnerships like this.

Mike Van Patten, the founder of Mission Markets, will be here March 7&8 for ReVV 2011, and will help attendees in his session learn how to get their ventures on board. Amy Pearl, founder of ChangeXchange, will also lead a session at ReVV to describe ChangeXchange and explain how to get listed.

Both online tools are emerging innovations, on the cutting edge, and need to grow to be of real and enduring value. What do you think? 

The ChangeXchange was funded by a series of generous grants from the Harbourton Foundation

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.

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