Corporate and Venture Philanthropy Reflection

On Wednesday, April 3, 2013, Allowance for Good began its newest program, Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy: A Student Seminar SeriesChicago-area youth are invited to participate in a weekly seminar to learn more about the global philanthropic sector and how they have the power to be philanthropists and agents for change.

Nina, reflects on our fourth session, focused on Corporate and Venture Philanthropy.

This week, we focused on Corporate and Venture Philanthropy. We learned that venture philanthropy is characterized by the willingness to experiment and try new approaches, focusing on measurable results, giving financial, intellectual, and human capital, and funding on a multi-year basis.

We explored these concepts by having a guest speaker named Sejal Shah-Myers come in and talk to us about her work at the Springboard Foundation. Founded in 1997 by 10 teenage boys with $50,000 and some support from the Chicago Community Trust, the Springboard Foundation invests in grassroots organizations by building their capacity to strengthen after-school programs, which benefit children in high-need neighborhoods. Sejal game us a quick overview of the Springboard Foundation, told us some stories about different grantees, and then talked a bit more about venture philanthropy in relation to the Springboard Foundation.

After she had left, we briefly went over our homework, which was to interview someone we knew whose company had a giving arm. In order to further understand venture philanthropy, we were divided into two groups of three to create our own venture philanthropy fund. There were a few things we had to take into account, such as the name, the mission or area of focus, the reason, how many people should be a part of this, the minimum financial investment, and if that financial investment should increase their vote. We finished this session with a video about Warby Parker, a company that distributes a pair of glasses for every pair sold. As a continuation of this session, we were asked to write a letter on the behalf of an organization of our own creation asking for a grant from the venture philanthropy funds we had created.