"You can't steer a parked car": an update on the state of Impact Foundation
Momentum. That's the word of the day every day at Impact Foundation. We're trying to achieve and maintain enough momentum to accomplish our mission - helping donors invest in businesses that do good and make money. As we say a lot, "You can't steer a parked car." We've gotten going and now have enough activity so there's something to shape. It's exciting and sometimes we forget to share what's been happening. So here's a short update.
New Team Members
Jeff Johns joined as our CEO. He's the former EVP in charge of growth for National Christian Foundation. Jeff loves Jesus, his family, food, serving Donor/Investors - most of whom he knows because he's one of the most networked guys I know - building a great business, and adventure (in that order). As the former national collegiate skydiving champion, Jeff is reliving his glory days by jumping out of a steady job at NCF to do something brand new. Read his bio.
Bev Lathrop joined as our Operations Manager, or as she prefers "Queen of Covert Ops". With a high capacity for organizing chaos, Bev does a commendable job wrangling all the activity that Jeff and Aimee stir up. She spent the past 4 years working with Jeff at NCF and has enjoyed making the jump with him to Impact Foundation.
Though we think of ourselves as business people and have a revenue model, we're fully a charity and can raise donations to fuel our launch. We are excited to report that we've recruited 10 of the 20 founders we need to provide sustainability over the next 36 months until our revenue model covers our operating expenses. We'll keep working to find the remaining founders but for now we celebrate God's provision. Yay! Paychecks are nice.
Closing Deals and Building Processes
As our friend Dan Viall reminds us, "innovation happens at the speed of execution". It's his nice ways of saying that no one cares how cool our ideas are unless we actually follow through and do something. For us, the critical moment happens when we help a donor invest charitable capital in a business that makes money and has spiritual/social/environment impact. Happily, we've completed investments for 11 Donor/Investors with 3 more set to close in the next week. Talk about momentum.
To keep up with all these investments is no small task, which is why we're so pleased to be working with Capin Crouse, a prominent national accounting firm. Capin is helping build our accounting processes and will perform quarterly mini-audits to make sure we're following them. We've also hired Sunesis Advisors, a multi-family office that is expert at helping their clients vet, make, and manage private investments. This team provides those same services to Impact Foundation. As amazing as Jeff and Bev may be, we will never be investment experts, which makes Sunesis a very important part of our secret sauce.
Our 501c3 status came through. If you want to read more about why it's such a big deal, click here.
Pete Ochs" business Seat King exemplifies the best of "Redemptive Business" as a means of creating jobs and transforming lives.
Expanding on traditional Evangelism/Discipleship, the idea of Redemptive Business borrows heavily from Praxis Labs’ concept of a “redemptive entrepreneur”, or one who seeks to embody the gospel in creating and building a venture that leaves a meaningful impact on the world.
In the first 18 months of Impact Foundation, we have place $30 Million in 53 Impact Companies, spanning the globe from Silicon Valley to Laos. The impact of those investments encompasses most of the main categories of transformation sought by traditional charity plus a few areas that charity cannot reach. Read about the causes and places that our investments seeks to transform.
Some of our more devoted followers may have noticed that some months ago Impact Foundation and Olive Tree Investments joined forces. If you haven't noticed, or are confused by the combination, this blog is for you.
It’s a natural fit as both groups put charitable capital to work in enterprises that seek measurable social and kingdom transformation while earning money. Impact Foundation offers donors a flexible tool for charitable investment, while Olive Tree searches the globe for the best transformative businesses in emerging markets.
We are excited to welcome Steve Doerr to the team. He recently retired as an executive at ExxonMobil after more than 27 years. As Chief Operating Officer, Steve will help us shore up Impact Foundation's infrastructure and position us for the next phases of growth.
Steve has extensive experience managing diverse global portfolios and has lived and worked in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa as well as the US.
In the spring of 1984 my wife and I were standing in a field in Guatemala on an insight trip led by Opportunity International. I understood for the first time the power of business to accelerate the Great Commandment. I knew empirically and from experience that charity alone cannot eliminate extreme poverty; it's a critical piece of the puzzle, but insufficient on its own. That moment in Guatemala crystallized for me the desire to devote my life to serving the poor with sustainable, finance-driven solutions: not just to make the poor a little less poor but to partner with God in His work of redeeming the world and spreading the hope of the gospel.
I was 17 when my dad died. It was sudden and deeply disorienting. Those days and weeks immediately afterward were a dense fog of grief and cleanup. He died without a will or estate plan (mainly because he had nothing to plan).
As the youngest of 5 kids and the only one still living at home without an adult job, I received the largest "inheritance".
Part 2 in our "Defining and Measuring Series"
"I own a company and I'm a Christian. Does that mean you can invest in my company?" - We get a version of this question at least once a week at Impact Foundation. Consequently, we've spent a lot of time thinking about what it means to say deploy capital for social and spiritual impact alongside financial gain. Is it enough to have "christian" management? Must the organization sell "spiritual" goods or services?
Part 1 in our "Defining and Measuring Series"
To reach broader adoption, kingdom impact investing needs a unified definition and a basic set of metrics to help determine if it works. Over the next few blogs, we'll explore these issues but first can't we find a better phrase?
"Kingdom" in our usage refers to the kingdom of God, as Jesus described it in His teachings. Not every follower of Jesus is comfortable with this phrase. For us at Impact Foundation, the hope of this Kingdom drives everything we do. Thus, it seems a suitable adjective to differentiate our version of "impact investing" and the least bad option.
part 3 of 3 in our "Defining and Measuring Series"
Tracking performance of investments to determine if we're meeting our goals for spiritual transformation feels like the holy grail of Kingdom Impact Investing. It’s time to put forth a working version that can be implemented now and improved over time because we have seen the power of Kingdom Impact Investing and want to unleash it for more good.
Sitting between Thailand and Vietnam, the country of Laos is marked by rugged mountains and one of the lowest per capita incomes in the world. This poverty fuels the two largest industries in the Golden Triangle (Laos, Burma, Thailand, and Myanmar): opium trade and human trafficking.
Jobs and the hope of the Gospel - they're needed here perhaps more than anywhere else. Fortunately, the Lao government has been implementing reforms meriting attention from US investors. For those interested in alleviating poverty through sustainable business, it's an attractive place. That it why Laos Agriventure got its start.