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The Top Venture Philanthropy Nonprofits and Foundations

The Top Venture Philanthropy Nonprofits and Foundations – Make It Better
By Will Mendelson

According to Nonprofit Quarterly, “… there’s no one definition or model for ‘venture philanthropy’ — nor is one needed, because it’s ‘more of a blanket term, an expression of a more purpose-, results- and responsibility-driven worldview’ many foundations now embrace.” At Make It Better, we’re proud to work closely with these types of nonprofits and organizations every day. Organizations that are tried and true through our previous partnerships include the Chicago Public Education FundA Better ChicagoInvest for Kids, the Y of ChicagoMultiple Myeloma Research Foundation and the Lefkofsky Family Foundation. These Chicago-based organizations have a strong vision and clearly articulated priorities.

The Susan Crown Exchange is “a social investment organization with a fresh approach to catalyzing change through philanthropy.” It explores how agency and resilience play a role in connecting others, and the organization focuses on social and emotional learning. Their mission is to drive social change, and they are so successful with what they set out to achieve.

The Keywell Foundation has backed the Change the World Social Entrepreneurs Competition, which awarded $1 million in cash prizes. Forbes spearheaded the competition, which focuses on ideas that have the potential to change the world. The completion, held in the fall of 2016, garnered more than 1,000 young entrepreneurs. Along with Brad Keywell, Ashton Kutcher also lent his hand to the competition, signing on to a three-year partnership to host for profit competitions for young social entrepreneurs.

Chicago Beyond focuses on scalability and partners with the University of Chicago on important research. Their mission statement reads, “We believe the young people of Chicago possess incredible potential. Chicago Beyond aims to help realize that potential.” They take a three-step approach, which consists of sourcing and supporting innovative programs that improve education and increase safety for young Chicgoans, investing in research and sparking further philanthropic and public investments that improve the lives of these young people.

Social Venture Partners Chicago (SVP Chicago) invest time, money and an expertise in innovative nonprofit that have the potential to make meaningful and sustainable improvements within the Chicagoland community. The group consists of lawyers, investors, educators, business professionals and philanthropists who help solve problems and aim to improve the communities in which they live. Social Venture Partners Chicago “is a partnership of philanthropically-minded individuals striving to make a significant impact on the lives of those in our community.” They take an engaged philanthropy approach to funding innovative and scalable nonprofits and we strengthen the impact of our dollars through volunteering our time, expertise and network connections in support of the mission.

Emerson Collective, by Laurene Powell Jobs, is organized as an LLC — not as a nonprofit — which means it can make for-profit investments and political donations. They’re an organization dedicated to removing barriers to opportunity so people can live to their full potential and focus their work on education, immigration reform, the environment and other social justice initiatives. They use a wide range of tools and strategies, which include partnering with entrepreneurs and experts, parents and policymakers, advocates and administrators to spur change and promote equality.

These national organizations regularly surface on top/best lists for venture philanthropy nonprofits.

The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation is a global venture philanthropy firm supporting early stage, high impact social enterprises. They believe that with early funding and rigorous support, exceptional leaders, tackling some of society’s most complex problems, they can make the world a better place. They find, fund and support exceptional leaders with innovative and highly impactful ideas that have the potential to scale and provide $300,000 of unrestricted capital over three years.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is a nonpartisan, private charitable foundation that advances ideas and supports institutions to promote a better world. For 50 years, they have supported efforts to advance education for all, preserve the environment, improve lives and livelihoods in developing countries, promote the health and economic well-being of women, support vibrant performing arts, strengthen Bay Area communities and make the philanthropy sector more effective.

The Seattle Foundation has teamed up with the Bullitt FoundationLoom Foundation and Social Venture Partners to create a new funding collaborative – the Sustainable Communities Funders group. Seattle Foundation strengthens the health and vitality of Seattle by connecting generous people with well-informed philanthropic strategies and by developing targeted strategies to quicken the pace of progress toward a stronger community for all.

The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation prioritizes organization leaders with transformative ideas, insists on results and assists with thought-partners and bench-marking and scrutinizes for proper leadership to leverage the investment. The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation makes grants to promising people and organizations working to improve public schools, advance scientific and medical research and make the arts accessible to the broadest public.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation was established to create positive outcomes for future generations. The Foundation enables lasting, meaningful change through sustained, scientifically sound philanthropy. We appreciate our role as society’s venture capital, making bold investments and taking considered risks, to attain significant results that can improve the future. We seek to achieve through philanthropy what Gordon Moore accomplished for the world of computing: to create an ever more powerful engine of progress in society.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation focuses on the areas of greatest need, on the ways in which they can do the most good.
From poverty to health, to education, their areas of focus offer the opportunity to dramatically improve the quality of life for billions of people. To do this, they build partnerships that bring together resources, expertise, and vision and work with the best organizations around the globe to identify issues, find answers, and drive change.

The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation aggregates capital and integrates into investment approach, thereby channeling capital more effectively to scale programs that work. The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation champions economically disadvantaged youth and partners with other investors to expand programs with compelling evidence in order to help more vulnerable young people become successful adults.

The Robin Hood Foundation “compares the impacts of dissimilar programs by measuring them on this same scale: how much the program is going to increase future earning and income.” The Foundation invests in the most effective ways to fight poverty in New York City by partnering with more than 200 of the best nonprofits in the city. Their mission focuses on improving the living standards for 1.8 million low-income New Yorkers.

The Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund (SV2) is a community of more than 200 individuals and families who have come together to learn about effective giving and pool their resources to support innovative social ventures. SV2’s model of engaged, collaborative giving has four components: grants and impact investing, learning programs, capacity building, and family engagement. This powerful combination of activities enables the fund to learn more and create more impact.