The Social Impact Exchange Blog

  • Sharon Miller, Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center
    Posted: April 29, 2013

    Lessons in Going to Scale is a newly-launched blog series featuring on-the-ground stories from nonprofit organizations at different points in their scaling trajectory. Hear from S&I 100 CEOs and nonprofit leaders in health, education, youth, and poverty alleviation about the strategies and challenges of developing a scaling model.

    How S&I 100 organization Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center used existing resources and infrastructure to scale geographically and open a fourth site in the Bay Area. CEO Sharon Miller shares what she learned during the process.

    Kasey Arnold was a talented writer and an accomplished corporate marketer who was feeling stuck and unable to generate enough business from her one-person operation. Recently, she was down on her luck as an entrepreneur, barely making enough money to get by and living out of her car. She heard about Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center’s (Renaissance) small business training and support services in her community, and intrigued by the possibility of boosting her bottom line, she signed up for Urban FIRE entrepreneurship class at our newest center in Marin. Through the training she received at Renaissance Marin, Kasey was able to transform herself from a contractor-for-hire to an independent business with a niche market. She was able to hone her marketing message and narrow her focus and her clients. As a result, Kasey was able to secure new clients who truly appreciated her expertise. Recently, she was offered shares as well as a significant hourly rate by a new startup. She now has more work than she can handle and was able to take a vacation for the first time in years.

  • Tamara Schweitzer Raben, Social Impact Exchange at Growth Philanthropy Network
    Posted: April 16, 2013

    Carol Thompson Cole is President and CEO of Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP), a philanthropic investment firm (and intermediary) that focuses on funding high-performing nonprofits in the National Capital Region. Carol brings a unique perspective to the field of venture philanthropy, having worked for over 30 years in both the public and private sectors. She spent significant time in government -- at both the federal and local level, and was the first woman to be appointed City Administrator in the District of Columbia.  She also served as Special Advisor to President Clinton on the District of Columbia, and prior to that, she was a Vice President at RJR Nabisco. The Exchange’s Tamara Schweitzer Raben spoke to Carol about the role of the intermediary in bringing together multiple sectors to fund and support the capacity of high-impact nonprofits going to scale.  

  • Cynthia W. Massarsky, Social Impact Exchange at Growth Philanthropy Network
    Posted: April 15, 2013

    Recent articles and events have highlighted innovative efforts to form funder collaboratives that pool talent and resources to benefit specific causes. The subject is discussed in the Spring 2013 SSIR article, High Stakes Donor Collaborations [1] by William Seldon, Tom Tierney and Gihani Fernando. Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) held a Co-Funding Convening in February that brought together 140 grantmakers to explore different approaches to strategic co-funding, a key way grantmakers of all types are expanding the impact of their grants. Funder collaboratives including Edna McConnell Clark Foundation’s Growth Capital Aggregation Pilot, LISC, Social Venture Partners (SVP), Living Cities, the California Immigrant Integration Initiative, Disabilities Funders Network, Slingshot, and others all are designed to capitalize on the human and financial resources of like-minded stakeholders – and they are having a significant impact on the programmatic and geographic areas they serve.

  • Tamara Schweitzer Raben, Social Impact Exchange at Growth Philanthropy Network
    Posted: April 11, 2013

    ‘Spotlight’ features nonprofits that are pursuing active growth capital campaigns that will enable them to scale their impact.

    Growth capital campaign aims to reach all low-income communities, classrooms, and children with the books and resources needed to eliminate knowledge poverty.


    Having books – at home and in the classroom – is the number one predictor of reading success. But the reality for children growing up in poverty is this: books are scarce. Forty-five percent of children in the United States – more than 30 million kids – live in low-income households. Most of these children have no age-appropriate books at home; neither their parents nor the schools and programs they attend can afford to buy books at retail prices. Studies show that in the areas of deepest poverty, there is only one age-appropriate book for every 300 children.

  • Meghan Duffy, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    Posted: April 10, 2013

    More and more grantmakers are pursuing a variety of innovative approaches to increase the reach and impact of their funding strategies, some that involve organizational growth and others that do not. GEO’s newest publication, Pathways to Grow Impact — based on a collaborative project between GEO, Ashoka, Social Impact Exchange, Taproot Foundation and TCC Group — confirmed that a certain set of smarter grantmaking practices are crucial to supporting nonprofits in their efforts to create more value for their communities.