Giving Compass’ Take:
• The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation looks to fund innovative and exceptional social enterprises. Recently, they reflected on their pipelines to understand the gaps in funding and how to remedy them.
• Can other foundations learn from this reflective process? Why is this important for foundations to do in the first place?
• Read about why early-stage social enterprises need funding.
At Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation our work is guided by a singular belief: that finding, funding and supporting exceptional social entrepreneurs and the organizations they start is the foundation for creating lasting impact for our world and its most vulnerable populations.
But recently, we’ve been reflecting on our approach to finding exceptional social entrepreneurs – and we’ve learned that we must start by asking hard questions about our pipeline: Are we really seeing the full set of potential applicants? Are we accessible and approachable to the most compelling applicants, many of whom get started outside of the usual geographies and may not have access to existing ecosystems?
What have we learned so far?
We’ve noticed gaps, most notably that we had little exposure to Latino social entrepreneurs, and that we still needed to do more to drive gender and racial balance. Too much of our pipeline was still coming from the usual actors and places, particularly US coastal cities; and too many of our international organizations, especially in Africa, were led by foreigners rather than locals.
So, what have we done to get started?
We’ve embedded this mindset in our entire investment team by discussing our pipeline data at least quarterly. Requiring that all deals start with our application form, no exceptions, has greatly improved our data quality. We’ve piloted a nominating process, most recently in patient outcomes, to build a wider network of referral partners. We’re resourcing efforts to reach communities that have not been represented enough in our pipeline by attending convenings that are new to us, and by leveraging new partners on the ground.
Read the full article about challenging your funding pipeline by Christy Chin & Elizabeth Washburn at Harvard Business School
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