In our Global Portfolio, we invest in scalable models creating access to quality goods and services that improve the lives and livelihoods of the poor. The collection of characteristics that we look for in an organization are outlined below:
Social Entrepreneur-Led Organizations
We fund social entrepreneur-led organizations that have visionary leadership, innovative ideas that will create systemic change, the willingness to take risks and defy the status quo, and a sense of urgency and passion for creating a replicable approach to solving an important social problem.
Organizations entering our portfolio are typically 1 to 5 years old with at least some pilot work underway when we first fund them. We find that organizations with annual budgets of less than $3 million are at the right size to enter our portfolio.
We tend to make investments around innovative approaches to increase livelihoods, improve health outcomes, or create systemic improvements to education. We also gravitate towards organizations incorporating business principles in their model.
We look for organizations that will grow and endure over the longer-term. They are characterized by the ability to articulate their end game (see “What’s Your End Game?”), as well as the ability to fundraise, and build their global team and their board. We also like earned income models that generate some unrestricted funding for the organization to reinvest.
Focused, Easy to Understand Models
As a family foundation, simplicity is key. We need to be able to understand the model and the desired outcome and be able to explain it to others succinctly. We are most aligned with organizations that are focusing on one core issue – not trying to be all things to all people.
Beneficiaries as Active Stakeholders
We believe in solutions that incorporate the end beneficiary as an active stakeholder with a voice in the process, thereby safe-guarding against approaches that patronize the poor. These models demonstrate some buy-in from the beneficiary – either through traditional vendor customer relationships or through co-investment of resources or time.
We invest in organizations that can have a transformational impact in the lives of its beneficiaries. This often manifests in one-time catalytic interventions in people’s lives, attempting to change entire systems, and/or promoting peer-to-peer learning or viral behavior change.
Impact is important to us, and should be for the organizations we support. Grantees should have a culture of collecting data to measure impact and refine their model, an M&E system envisioned or in place, and a relatively low cost per impact versus alternative solutions.
Feeling / “It Factor”
In our heart, we remain a family foundation. We fund relationships – we have longer investment horizons and we go to bat, open doors, roll up our sleeves and work on our grantees behalf. So we have to feel 100% excited about the relationship from the beginning. We know it when we see it and feel it.
What we Don’t Fund
- US volunteer models
- Models heavily dependent on US markets
- Models tackling many issues simultaneously
- Models with advocacy at the core
- Complex models that are difficult to explain or implement
- Models without strong local senior leadership presence on the ground
- Larger more established organizations
- Organizations that do not have a dynamic social entrepreneur (s)