Venture philanthropy is the combined use of financial and non-financial resources to support the development of social purpose organisations in delivering social impact. Venture Philanthropy organisations operate on these principles:
- An engaged relationship: As opposed to broad-based grant-makers, venture philanthropists work with a small number of organisations at any one time, preferring a deeper engagement than possible with a large portfolio of grantees or investees. Venture philanthropy funds also typically accept one or more places on the board of the organisation, to add value in governance and strategy.
- Funding for growth and development: Venture philanthropists view their funding (in the form of donations or other financial instruments) as helping organisations to scale up and so typically commit funding for 3 – 5 years during this phase. Importantly they view their donations as ‘investments’ in the organisation rather than simply a way of purchasing their services.
- Building capacity and infrastructure: Many social purpose organisations operate below capacity, with under-developed systems and few resources for developing people. Venture philanthropists focus on helping build stronger, more sustainable organisations.
- Investing in people and leaders: Capable leadership is essential for strong organisations going through a period of growth. Venture philanthropists aim to provide the resources to help nurture strong executives and boards.
- Focused on outcomes and social impact: Venture philanthropists are concerned that the organisations they support create real social impact. They help these organisations understand how to effectively communicate their ‘theory of change’, and hold them accountable to delivering the highest possible social impact.
These principles are among the characteristics of good grant making and social investment, practiced by foundations and other social funders for decades. In venture philanthropy they converge to focus on capacity building and social impact to deliver growth in mission.
Keen to get started on the Venture Philanthropy journey? Find out more about how to Engage with AVPN.