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teaches basic job skills, for instance, may be of little use to an ex-con with a college degree. As donors, we should be looking for ways that our money can help a program scale up. If we can use our donor dollars to help organizations find permanent funding or program revenues that will support increasing Increasingly, we are seeing for-profit social enterprises having impact at scale. Tom’s Shoes, a familiar for-profit shoe brand that gives away a pair of shoes for every pair it sells, may have put more new shoes on the feet of poor children who didn’t have shoes than any nonprofit in history. There are many old-school examples of for- profit businesses operating in what is often thought of as a nonprofit space, including hospitals, universities and private K-12 schools. Nonprofits are increasingly seeking to generate program revenues to help fund their operations. One of the great things about for-profit businesses driving social impact is that they can attract investment capital. There are orders of magnitude more investment assets in the world than there are philanthropic dollars available. By tapping into the former scale, so much the better. Social Entrepreneurship
to drive impact, we have the potential to see more people lifted out of poverty in this generation than in any generation in history. Crowdfunding and Impact Investing Crowdfunding is just now beginning to create a path for ordinary individuals to use their money as investments to drive impact. Kiva is the best-known example for ordinary investors. Anyone can go to Kiva and lend as little as $25 and watch that money be returned over time to their account so that they can lend it again—and again. Given the nearly 100% return of invested capital on Kiva, if you lend a new $25 each month, in five years you’ll have accumulated a portfolio of $1,500 that you can constantly recycle there for good. Some impact investments, as they are known, are yielding much higher results than just a return of capital.Most have traditionally been limited to the most affluent individuals and institutions, but as investment crowdfunding grows, ordinary investors will get more and more opportunities to invest money for impact with financial returns. Venture Philanthropy Many programs we hope to see scaled will be funded in their early stages by a growing
group of donors who style themselves as venture philanthropists.Many of them have a venture capital background and actively apply entrepreneurial thinking to the nonprofit arena. By focusing on outcomes rather than inputs, and funding programs that have great potential to scale, they are creating new nonprofits that have more potential for impact than many we’ve seen in the past. Become a StarThrower When you deliberately seek to maximize the impact of your money for good in the world, you become a star thrower. You join the ranks of countless other star throwers who, with a little time, some innovation and hard work, can eradicate some of the world’s biggest problems by remembering that the ultimate implication of “every one matters” is not that we should be happy having helped just one, but that we together have the responsibility and the opportunity to help every last one. Devin Thorpe focuses on helping those doing good in the world. As an author, Forbes contributor, keynote speaker, emcee and trainer, Devin’s mission is to solve some of the world’s biggest problems before 2045. His latest book, Crowdfunding for Social Good: Financing Your Mark on the World, is now on shelves. Follow him at @devindthorpe and DevinThorpe.com.
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