I know nothing, I’m from Barcelona – Manuel’s classic line from the British sitcom Fawlty Towers has never been more apt to my personal situation than today!
Am having a great opportunity to learn about developments within the sector of philanthropy, today and tomorrow in Barcelona (in fact in Sant Cugat, a small distance away from Messiville… Tooooot el camp. Eeeeeess un clam. Ok. Focus.)…Here are some quick thoughts on an intense but rich first day at the EVPA Training Academy on Venture Philanthropy and Social Investment. Summarizing learnings of such a filled day, isn’t really feasible. But nevertheless, would like to jot down the following, all stuff which I’ve registered today in my mind, which I might implement in my work in days months years to come – but which I might also simply put aside in my mind’s category entitled “damn interesting to know but not really applicable to me currently, so dear knowledge, go forth and move into my knowledge building, I’ll get back to you whenever I can…”
Right I’m blabbering. So. Here goes.
- Grantmaking is venture philantropy/VP includes grantmaking. Not all VP initiatives do “classic” investing in the shape of a loan or equity, not all expect a financial return on investment. But the ingredients of VP are very much apt for, say, “classic” grantmaking: while not necessarily seeking a monetized RoI, applying the underlying philosophy of VP can transform how a funder looks at the value-add its financial input brings about in the functioning of non profits (and social enterprises).
- The range of tools which funders can work with in order to strive for social change, is huge. And that variety amongst funders, cannot be underestimated. Participants in the training include public benefit foundations, impact investment funds, corporate foundations, etc. There is a whole world out there bringing the brains and ideas from finance together with philantropy- rather, philantropy as I know it. New horizons!
- Terminology. Always terminology. Impact investing. Social impact investing. Social investment. Venture philanthropy. A definition exists for all of these terms. The nuances are sometimes big. Sometimes not. The key lesson is to clearly define the objectives of your funding. And then act upon it. Whatever you want to call this.
- “Non-financial support” (for example, an external consultant to guide the management team to achieve this), was a term I found really straightforward to grasp the various forms of support a funder can provide a NPO with which doesn’t take the shape of money. Maybe nothing new, but I’m looking forward to scan through the EVPA publication on this to better understand very concrete challenges in this area – for example, how to choose the right consultant when applying VP in sectors which are not at all accustomed to this type of funding opportunities and collaborations?After all, these beneficiaries might have more experience with financial support than other support…
- I got the impression this whole sector of impact investment brings a whole new dimension to the debate on how to boost the development of developing countries. The examples I heard and the cases we discussed, illustrate that the old paradigm of defining development in terms of development aid, is slowly but surely indeed an outdated way of approaching this. While I don’t know the finesses of these things, I remember coming across an article on a social impact bond in India which aims to increase the participation in education of girls from underprivileged communities. Excellent example of how these funding tools can create new dynamics.
- Right. All too random thoughts on an interesting but sometimes complex topic. Too much to structure properly. Especially post midnight 🙂
Important: None of these are absolute truths. These 6 points don’t tell anything about how the philanthropy sector, or how the involved stakeholders, view or define the VP spectrum. They simply reflect what my mind has attempted to register after these 9 odd hours of information I’ve been trying to take up.
Last but not least: I appreciated the mix of people from all over Europe in class (yes, back to the classroom!). All theory and intellectualspeak aside, there’s nothing more enriching than hearing other practicioners talk about their interests and challenges in their pathway to build a better society in their respective regions.
If to learn is life’s objective, today was a good day.
More tomorrow! Or later.