Jan 9 2018
Welcome to 2018! As we begin the new year, we want to take a moment to thank you for being a part of the RSF community. We would also like to share reflections on last year’s achievements and an update about the CEO transition.
2017 proved to be an exceptional year in our 33-year history. We surpassed $200 million in assets and flowed more funds than ever to groundbreaking social enterprises with money entrusted to us by you—our community of values-driven investors and donors. At year end, we exceeded our funding goals and deployed more than $50 million in loans, investments, and grants to organizations that produce healthy food, enhance children’s education, create meaningful jobs, and protect precious natural resources, among many other impactful missions.
The conscious flow of capital has generated stories of economic empowerment, social innovation, and system change that inspire us each day, even against the backdrop of our complicated geopolitical climate. We appreciate RSF’s role as a leader in social finance and remain committed to surfacing and sharing new ways to use our integrated capital approach to catalyze and strengthen the work of innovative social entrepreneurs.
Fiscal accomplishments are important, but they are only one way to measure progress in transforming the way we relate to money. Real transformation reflects both inner and external work, which is why study, deep listening, and deliberation is so important to our approach. From this inner work we’ve developed several beneficial practices for the field. RSF Prime and our Community Pricing Gatherings, now held both in person and online for broader access, were conceived during a staff study on associative economics. And this year, recognizing our own learning edges, staff and board took part in training sessions on diversity, equity, and inclusion facilitated by racial justice advocate Phoenix Soleil. We have continued the honest dialogue on how to best meet our commitment to a diverse and inclusive workplace and client community.
With reflection and experience come learning and creation in community. In keeping with our values and focus on field building, this year we launched the RSF Integrated Capital Fellowship. This experiential training program uses what RSF has learned about integrated capital, collaboration, and innovation to support a new generation of financial activists as they build their capacity to deploy capital for social and ecological benefit. This year’s fellowship brought together a diverse cohort of 24 talented individuals from across the U.S., including leaders from philanthropic foundations, financial institutions, and nonprofits.
Leadership in integrated capital requires ongoing opportunities for innovation, which we have created alongside generous donors. Our thematic funding collaboratives focus on specific issues such as soil health, fair trade, biodynamics, and local food systems. Of special mention, both because of its achievements and the national conversation on workplace gender discrimination, is the Women’s Capital Collaborative, a fund that supports women-led social enterprises that empower women and girls through grants, loans, and investments. As part of this Collaborative, RSF hosted the first Shared Gifting Circle for women at the helm of social enterprises. With support from this Collaborative, we also financed four women-led companies that are addressing gender inequity with innovative business solutions that transcend geography.
We acknowledge that leadership transitions have many dimensions and are working collaboratively with RSF’s Board to ensure clarity for all stakeholders. The depth and talent of our staff has been invaluable and will continue to be a key source of support to catalyze our next stage of growth. We look forward to building on last year’s momentum by continuing our engagement with the core values and principles that constitute the unique culture of RSF.
We close this letter with a heartfelt thank you to our community. We, staff and board, have been touched by the way you have embraced and advocated for us this past year. When Don Shaffer announced his transition from RSF, you stepped up and connected us with hundreds of inspiring candidates. When we surpassed our lending goals and needed more values-aligned capital, we made an important ask for additional funds into our Social Investment Fund, and dozens of investors responded and added a total of $700,000. You have stood with us—and indeed are part of us. And later this year, we look forward to welcoming our new chief executive to this extraordinary community full of love and inspiration.
John Bloom, Vice President, Organizational Culture
Chris Cook, Chief Financial Officer
Susie Lee, Chief Investment Officer
Deb Nelson, Vice President, Client & Community Engagement
Katrina Steffek, Chief Operating Officer
P.S. To allow for more creativity and diversity in our communications, we will now produce newsletters semi-annually in special spring and fall editions. RSF stakeholders will also receive our annual report in the summer and an executive letter in the winter. We also look forward to showing you more exclusive content in our Medium.com online publication, Reimagine Money (medium.com/reimagine-money).