venture philanthropy

Kicking the Soccer Ball towards a Better Future

By: Madeleine
Madeleine was a participant in Allowance for Good's 2015 Global Philanthropy Summit. She is now partnering with AYSO and one of our Global Affiliates, Spark Ventures, to provide soccer supplies for children in Zambia and Nicaragua. To donate to her project please check out her Go Fund Me page.

Soccer can reach across language barriers.
Hi! My name is Madeleine Beirne and I attended the venture philanthropy GPS program this summer. Through the AfG program, I was able to meet an amazing organization called Spark Ventures, that helps communities in Zambia and Nicaragua create thriving businesses, and introduce myself to Lucy Jodlowska and Arnold Duijzer, who encouraged the group to help think of games and activities that the children (in Zambia and Nicaragua) and the people coming with Spark Ventures could participate in to help introduce themselves and learn from each other. We were aware that there were both language and age barriers between the children and the people with Spark Ventures, so one of the main activities that the group could participate in easily was soccer, which is wildly popular in both places.

Before the AfG program, my dad and I had spoken about the idea to partner with AYSO, the national soccer league in America, and start a donation drive where AYSO participants would be able to donate their old jerseys, uniforms, cleats, and soccer equipment. One of the main things I was trying to figure out, however, was what organization to donate them to. While trying to brainstorm ideas for Spark Ventures, I realized that this would be a perfect opportunity to connect this idea with Spark Ventures and see if they would be interested in the donations.
Maddie, on right, at AfG's Global Philanthropy Summit.
Through AfG, I was able to connect with Lucy and figure out the details of the soccer uniform donation drive. One of the main things that I took away from the AfG program was how important youth driven philanthropy is, both to our world and to future generations. AfG helped me make connections with organizations and people, and it made me realize that, as youth, we have the power to inspire and help others.

With the amazing support and cooperation of AYSO, the American Youth Soccer Organization, my dad and I were able to set up a tent at the AYSO lakefront soccer fields and collect old soccer uniforms and equipment from AYSO participants, which we will be doing every Saturday for a couple of weeks. Amazingly, we were able to collect hundreds of uniforms, cleats, socks, soccer balls, and other equipment on just the first day. This equipment will be going to children in Nicaragua and Zambia, the two locations where Spark Ventures has helped create thriving businesses in, and it will be shipped there within a couple weeks. We are dividing the uniforms into teams so that the children in both locations are able to form teams and create a smaller soccer league, that even the Spark Ventures visitors can participate in!
Some of the soccer uniforms Madeleine has collected.

Because we have a multitude of equipment to ship to both of these locations, I have started a go fund me page, where people can donate to help us ship the soccer supplies to Zambia and Nicaragua. If you can, a donation would be greatly appreciated and accepted! The link for the page is:

We didn’t have an initial goal for the project, but Spark Ventures needs around 170 uniforms and an assortment of other soccer equipment, which we’ve already exceeded this goal and have collected hundreds of uniforms already!  This project has taught me a lot about youth driven philanthropy, and how much power the youth have in our community. AfG has taught me the value of not only service and giving back to the community, but also the value of connecting with people and utilizing the resources that are available to me. For young people like me, I would encourage you to utilize the resources around you and make connections with people that will inspire you to inspire others. Thank you AfG and Spark Ventures!

Corporate Philanthropy in Action

By: Arielle
Arielle is a participant in Allowance for Good's Winter 2015 Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy: Explorers class.

The Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy course is not my first exposure to Allowance for Good. I spent a week of my 2014 summer in its Global Philanthropy Summit, a sort of crash course in Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship. After that week I was hooked. I had always had a passion for philanthropy, inspired by pretty much everyone in my family. My Dad is in charge of Pro-Bono work at his law firm, my Mom works for two public health non-profits, and my Aunt works in marketing for JUF, another non-profit. So, I was familiar with the concept of “giving back,” but I didn’t really know the details because no one sits a child down and explains the who, what, where, how, and why of philanthropy-- except of course AFG.

This past week we focused on socially responsible corporations, ranging from Warby Parker, which donates a pair of glasses for every single one of its products sold, to companies that encourage volunteering or match the donations of their employees. There are lots of ways that a company can fit philanthropy into its mission, and based on the rising popularity of socially responsible companies among consumers, not doing so could be devastating. In addition to these examples, there are still other ways to integrate philanthropy into a company: a corporation could use its brand name or money to raise awareness of an issue (for example, Always’ #likeagirl campaign); donate a portion of its yearly profits to a cause (e.g., Patagonia donates 1% of its profits to saving the environment); or implement specific ways to encourage volunteering, such as allowing employees days off to volunteer, offering the specialized services of the company for free, or providing other incentives (perhaps financial) for employees who volunteer.

After learning about the different ways corporate philanthropy is possible, we put the lesson into action. Our job was to determine how the hypothetical (or maybe future company run by AFG) bicycle company, “GetThere” should integrate philanthropy into its mission plan. The students split up into two groups and were joined by the board members, to make a plan. After going through a variety of ideas, my group settled on a bike safety program. This would involve teaming up with the local governments of our store locations to create bike paths, and providing free helmets to those who need one, but cannot afford one. This plan, if put into action, would have numerous benefits. Not only would there be a safer space for bikers, but the anxiety caused by bikers on the road would be reduced for drivers, and it would make GetThere a more sustainable company. With the danger of biking as transportation reduced, more people would bike, increasing the demand, and therefor the sales. This would also create a brand awareness for GetThere, hopefully bringing more bike-buyers to that store. This past week was a great one, and I am sure this information will come in handy when dealing with corporations.

Arielle, far left, brainstorms with her ELP classmates.

Philanthropy in the World: More Than One Meaning

By: Abby
Abby is a participant in Allowance for Good's Autumn 2014 Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy: Explorers class. 

Although my time is limited in Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy (ELP), I have learned that philanthropy has more than one meaning. The literal meaning of philanthropy is "the desire to promote the welfare of others". The etymological meaning of philanthropy is "the love of humanity". Yet, as I sit here on a Tuesday night in Evanston, IL, writing this blog post, it has finally hit me: philanthropy is not restricted to the definition of a dusty dictionary sitting on my desk.

Last session, we continued studying the types of philanthropy in depth. We discussed two "main" types of philanthropy: corporate and venture. Venture philanthropy is focused on the willingness to take risks and experiment, having a long-term structure set up, and focus on direct engagement from the donors with their grantees. Corporate philanthropy is focused on the belief that a company needs to be responsible for its actions-ethically, socially, or environmentally. Also, corporate philanthropy is a huge supporter of corporate giving, which is a grant making program established in a profit-making company. it is from these programs that gifts or grants are distributed to charitable organizations. Learning about these two different types of philanthropy interested me a lot because it made me think about myself when I get older. I want to become involved in a company that are corporate philanthropists and give back to the community.

For the second half of the session, we had Allowance for Good Associate Board members Tife and Ryan talk with us about what we have learned so far. Tife grew up in Nigeria and then moved to Chicago later in life. The first company he worked for were "terrible philanthropists" (as he put it), meaning that they did not give back to the community and really did not involve themselves in it. However, when he received a new job at a real estate company, that completely changed. Tife informed us that at his job now, he receives an email once a month that asks what charity/organization he would like to donate to. His company matches tries their best to match his donation request and donates it to that company. Ryan, born and raised in Hinsdale, IL, is a credit analyst at Northern Trust. He told us a lot about his occupation and what he enjoys about work, but what really stuck with me were what he calls his "3 Pillars". They were:
1) Always, always, always stay curious.
2) Know your environment.
3) Know your limits & defy them...but also know your job/responsibility and do not become suffocated.

I know for a fact that these 3 pillars will help me grow as a young woman, student, philanthropist, and overall a human being. Staying curious is the beginning of a question, which leads to an interest, which leads to a passion. ELP has really been the beginning "question" phase for me. I have never been that passionate about any specific world problem; of course, I wanted to change them all. Coming to ELP has helped me realize that even though I may not have a certain passion now, there is always something I can do to help people in the world who are not as privileged as me.

I know this is going to sound very cliche, but there is only one world humans live in (unless we magically find Earth's twin in the universe). Humans are not the only beings on Earth, but we are the most powerful beings. It is our duty to help each other while protecting the ground we step on, the air we breath, and the grass we mow. So, to end the post the same way as Ryan ended our session, "We are rich through only what we give. We are poor through only what we refuse."

Abby stands in front of her favorite leadership quote during an activity in ELP: Explorers.

Expanding Definitions of Philanthropy

By: Lily
Lily participated in Allowance for Good's spring 2014 Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy: Explorers program. 

In our Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy class, we have learned about Corporate Philanthropy, Venture Philanthropy, and Personal Philanthropy. I learned that Venture Philanthropy has a higher risk propensity than Corporate Philanthropy, and that it can be more affective in terms of building long-term relationships and skills for future philanthropic acts. I personally believe that Venture Philanthropy is the most affective type of Philanthropy, because I think that the best efforts for change are made by a group with different view points, and a wide variety of skills and opinions put forth when making a change in the world.

I discovered Venture Philanthropy during this class, and I am glad that I did, as I didn't think that such a type of philanthropy existed, and I was glad to discover that it does. I have heard of Personal and Corporate Philanthropy before-my grandfather's business gives money every year with part of their profits, and has a matching donations program. My family also gives our own money to charity through our foundation, the Weatherlow Foundation. Next year I will have a section of our grants to control, and I am happy to have responsibility for the change our family makes in the world. I am glad to have participated in this class, I have learned much about the different ways I can make a difference in the world, and my views on philanthropy have been impacted greatly by the amazing lessons I have learned in this class.
Lily (center) works with her ELP classmates to develop their own venture philanthropy fund.

Delving Into Venture Philanthropy

By: Orleana
Orleana is participating in Allowance for Good's autumn 2013 Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy program.

Last Thursday at ELP, we discussed venture philanthropy. Venture philanthropy is defined as the utilization of techniques from venture capital finance and business of management, combining them to achieve philanthropic outcomes through business world means.  Essentially, venture philanthropy is the financial support of new, non-profit organizations/potentially risky social ventures with promise or a significant goal in mind that requires aid to be recognized. Venture philanthropy allows these young organizations to mature and ground themselves, hopefully achieving self-sustainability after a set amount of years. 

Venture philanthropy is focused around providing financial support for and promoting small, new or underfunded organizations. Venture philanthropy enables emerging nonprofits to flourish through the giving of grants over a period of time. Both old and new organizations apply to receive grants, which, after an inspection by the organization supplying the grants, are given yearly for a certain number of years.

This week we had a great guest speaker, Sejal, come to class to discuss her work with The Springboard Foundation, a volunteer run group that supplies grants to beginning nonprofit organizations, with a focus on after school programs.  While affiliated with a variety of organizations, (having worked in the nonprofit field for the last fourteen years) Sejal is currently the Managing Director of the Springboard Foundation, and during Thursday’s class explained the goals of the Foundation and described its interactions with other nonprofits.

What I thought was one of the more interesting points in our discussion about The Springboard Foundation was its careful maintenance of the organizations they supply grants to. They check in with the organizations to see that the money they give is being spent productively, and making a successful change in the program. The Springboard Foundation definitely puts a lot of time and effort into getting emerging nonprofits running steadily, and I think that making sure the grants that they give are being used to get the maximum results is really important.

Near the end of class, we carried out a group activity where the class split into groups to create our ‘own’ venture philanthropy based foundations. We discussed prospective foundation names, goals, statements, and fiscal requirements, and each group presented our finished results at the end of class. While our projects were pretty small scale, they really made me appreciate all of the planning and hard work that goes into venture philanthropy, (though that could be said about any philanthropy), and the people and volunteers who come together to make it run so that other nonprofits can flourish.
Orleana, bottom right, listens to an ELP guest speaker during the Thursday night class.