On March 3rd, SVP Tampa Bay was invited to speak at Philanthropy Miami 2016: Philanthropy Reinvented, the largest gathering of funders and nonprofits in the Miami area. Lauren Harper of the Center for Social Change organized the day and invited me to be part of a panel: From Venture Philanthropy to Impact Investing: Demystifying the New Funding Scheme. In addition to sharing the SVP model and the story of our growth in Tampa Bay (all well received), I learned from my co-panelists about some interesting developments happening in our sector.
Thais Theisen spoke about bringing Idea.me to South Florida. Idea.me is Latin America’s leading crowdfunding platform having successfully funded hundreds of creative and social projects in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Uruguay, Columbia and Brazil. In Miami, they are being funded by the Knight Foundation and will focus on technology and innovation. Jocelyn Cortez-Young is the Founder and CEO of Minerva Capital Group, a pioneer in Impact Investing. Minerva also got its start in Latin America in 2009. Jocelyn shared with us that since October of 2015, ERISA, the law that governs pension funds in the U.S., has allowed managers of these large institutional investments to take social impact into account, opening the door a bit for this type of investment here.
Bill Pinakiewicz, VP of the Eastern Region for the Nonprofit Finance Fund, also spoke about Impact Investing, covering Pay for Success as well as his organization’s work around Program Related Investments and Mission Related Investments. Mission Related Investing refers to the practice of foundations considering the social purpose of the entities in which they invest their endowments. Program Related Investments, governed by IRS regulations, allow foundations to earn a below-market rate return on dollars awarded similarly to grants, but loaned through revolving funds. One example was a fund NFF manages that has recycled its PRI budget 3.5 times since 2009. Bill expressed hope that our sector will soon overcome its aversion to risk and build readiness for debt – before it is needed. The best news was hearing about the Nonprofit Finance Fund’s resources to assist not-for-profit organizations to become what Bill called “investment ready.” The Q&A session made the need for that type of assistance – and the capacity building offered by SVP – abundantly clear.