Our 2015 Investment Thesis

As we get ready for this year’s board meeting, here are some notes I shared with the board about the current group of potential grantees.

To: Ray, MG, Bob, Chris, GregFurthur Foundation Board Members
From: Andre
Re: 2015 Docket

I am very much looking forward to seeing you all this week. This list of great groups is a result of the usual combination of interests and strategies that have guided our work for years. As you all know, we:

  1. Look for leverage. With a small amount of money to give away, it’s important to find projects that have smaller budgets, and projects that propose to tackle a social problem in an innovative way, help generate other resources to bring to bear on the effort, or otherwise produce outsize results (in relation to the resources available). I think you’ll see many organizations that fit that profile.
  2. Respond to current events. You will note that there is a project related to refugees who are arriving in the Bay Area from the Middle East and need support of all kinds.
  3. Respond to larger societal trends. Economic disparity, joblessness, and the hollowing out of the middle and lower classes are large-scale economic trends that foundations like ours must respond to. You will see projects that relate to addressing these problems, including an exploration of a guaranteed minimum income and worker-owned cooperatives. In the same way, the transformation of society through technology means that we looking at two groups that help train people of color in software development and related business skills.
  4. Love charismatic megafauna. Saving and reintroducing wolves, bears, owls and other creatures at the top of the food chain has an enormous ripple effect on large environments, and is something that we have supported for years.
  5. Support training, leadership and self-care for the social change sector. Organizations that develop skills and provide other types of support for the good people who are doing social change work are by definition, if executed well, high leverage funding opportunities.
  6. Appreciate groups that stay in touch. As always, we are responsive to organizations that check in. If they remember us, report back to us, and make a good case for their work, we know they are likely well-run, viable enterprises who treat all their customers well.
  7. Love the arts and the outdoors, particularly efforts with a social mission. We are looking at supporting a play about solitary confinement that includes actors who are ex-prisoners, a group that teaches high school kids how to build businesses around their music, and a team that is rebuilding an old sailboat that takes inner-city kids sailing around the bay.

That is our “investment thesis” for this year.

Looking forward to seeing you all next week, and thanks for all you do…

Andre

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