After the Friday Roundtable discussion about why some nonprofits fail to fulfill their core mission, we asked our guests to tell us about charities they admire.
Steve Rothschild mentioned Lumni, an innovative way to help underprivileged kids pay for college:
It’s fundamentally a mutal fund. A below-market mutual fund in which social investors invest and then the money is used to support low-income kids to go to college. They have to pay the investors back, of course, because this is a legitimate mutual fund.
And they pay them back with an arrangement whereby the students agree that they will pay a percentage of their income for so many years. So if they are very successful, the amount they gain from those individuals is quite high. If they’re not successful [the fund] gets very little. So it is not a loan that would take people down. I think that is a very interesting concept.
Trista Harris, executive director of the Headwaters Foundation for Justice, said she’s inspired by a group that turns ordinary folks into philanthropists:
One of my new favorites is the Awesome Foundation. They’re in cities across the country. You pull together a group of 10 people, each person puts in $100 a month, and every month they make a $1,000 gift to something awesome. And it doesn’t have to be a nonprofit, it could just be an idea.
One of their first projects in Boston is, an artist wanted to build a huge hammock for a public space to encourage conversation. It can fit 30 to 40 people in this hammock. So, it doesn’t have to be a nonprofit and I think it’s stretched the idea of what’s possible in their community.
Sarah Caruso, president and CEO of the Greater Twin Cities United Way, said she admires two nonprofits based in Minnesota — Generation Next and Hunger Free Minnesota — that leverage people, money, and programs already in place:
These are remarkable movements because they have so many people involved and are trying to do layering and addressing multiple causes.
There are 500 education initiatives and programs. How do you bring them together for a greater impact? Because there is no new money.