Scaling successful nonprofits was the goal of the recent Social Impact Exchange Conference. To that end, seven likely prospects — recommended by a team of reviewers — were given the opportunity to present their business plans to a roomful of funders. In just 12 to 15 minutes, they each had to excite interest and demonstrate competency.
A little longer than an elevator speech but still a challenge in brevity.
After the presentations, funders talked among themselves about the pitches they’d just heard and decided if they’d like to learn more and, perhaps, fund one or more of the presenters. The purpose was not just to find funders for ready-to-scale nonprofits; it was to build coalitions of funders interested in funding the organization.
This isn’t a lone-wolf proposition. During the next few months, a facilitator will guide funders through due diligence, site visits, questions, and discussions with the nonprofit’s leadership. The hope is that funders and nonprofits will arrive at agreements that will allow the seven nonprofits to grow.The nonprofits under consideration for funding are:
- Communities in Schools, an organization that works in schools to help students overcome obstacles to success so they can succeed in school and in life. Funding would extend its services to 211 more elementary and middle schools, and 205,000 more students.
- Experience Corps uses the skills of older adults to improve literacy among school children. It’s goal is to expand its services to another 10,000 students in 23 cities
- JumpStart trains adults to mentor preschool children. It wants to expand its client-base from 6,000 preschoolers to 50,000.
- Root Capital loans money to farmers and artisans in 30 countries. It aims to help more than 632,000 small-hold farmers and provide financial management training to 200 businesses.
- Uncommon Schools operates charter schools in New York and New Jersey. The organization serves 3,000 students and wants to increase that number to 12,000 in 33 schools.
- Ways to Work provides low-interest auto loans and financial training to families who need transportation to get work and escape the poverty cycle. It wants to expand from 32 to 87 sites nationwide.
- YouthBuild USA uses the energy of low-income young adults to rebuild their communities. It’s goal is to double its client-base, from 8,000 to 16,000 by 2013.
Impressive, all! How do you choose between the needs of preschoolers and the needs of farmers in Africa and Latin America? The funders participating in this project will examine the metrics and business plans of each organization and, hopefully, find innovative solutions so no one has to choose. Maybe public/private partnerships or private investors, as were discussed at the conference, can leverage foundation money.
Who knows what the outcome will be? Watch this space!
For complete coverage of the 2010 inaugural Social Impact Exchange Conference: Taking Successful Innovation to Scale, go to Ventureneer SIEX10.