Donor Advised Funds

Local Initiatives Fund: Integrating Capital for Impact

September 26, 2013

Kelley Buhles RSF Social Finance

This article was originally published in the 2012 Annual Report.

By Kelley Buhles

How does innovation happen at RSF? Where do great new ideas come from? In 2012, an extraordinary thing happened that reminded us all how innovation is truly a co-creative process.

Working in collaboration with donors, the RSF philanthropic services and lending teams launched the Local Initiatives Fund. With a focus on building socially and ecologically sustainable regional food systems, this fund utilizes an integrated approach to investment through the deployment of philanthropic dollars allowing us to leverage our expertise across two disciplines, grantmaking and lending.

One of the exciting things about this fund is how it was created. A donor approached us early in the year expressing their admiration for our work and their trust in our values. They asked us, “How can you put our philanthropic money to work to build local, resilient economies?” What was special was not the question, but rather the donor’s willingness to release the gift – we were freed to think creatively about how we could best use these philanthropic funds to create more impact. The spirit of the free gift created the space for innovation.

We recognized that our lending team needed philanthropic funds to better leverage their work financing local sustainable food systems. In the past few years, the social finance field has seen that social entrepreneurs, those trying to make positive social and environmental impact, need different types of financing than those offered in the traditional financial market. Because most social entrepreneurs work carefully to preserve or restore natural resources and provide fair working conditions for their employees, they often do not see the high level of returns that are expected in the traditional marketplace. As a mission aligned partner, we are able to provide the different types of capital needed by these organization to support their growth in a way that most lenders cannot.

Using the philanthropic funds as guarantees, the lending team is now able to make loans to younger and slightly higher risk organizations that have the potential for great impact, but do not yet meet the financial requirements of our Social Enterprise Lending program. The lending team is also able to recommend charitable grants to non-profit borrowers who need extra support for infrastructure or capacity building. Using these different forms of capital, we’re able to deploy the right form of money, for the right purpose, at the right time for an organization.

A portion of the Local Initiatives Fund has also been designated for the Shared Gifting program. In this model, RSF facilitates a process in which grantees work together to allocate grants to each other. The goal is to move the decision making power of philanthropic funds into the community. The process encourages grantees to collaborate and share resources to meet their collective goals. In 2013, we will lead a Shared Gifting circle in Skagit County, WA.

At this stage, the Local Initiatives Fund is a pilot. We look forward to evaluating and sharing what we have accomplished over the next year.

As we look to the future, we now see more possibilities than ever before for how we can use money in new ways and work with our clients in different capacities to create more impact in the world.

Kelley Buhles is Senior Program Manager of Philanthropic Services at RSF Social Finance.

2012 Year End Grant Making Activity

March 4, 2013

By Ellie Lanphier

As we barrel full speed ahead into 2013, we wanted to take a moment to recognize all of the giving that took place within our wonderful donor community at the end of 2012.

In November and December of 2012 we made 127 grants, totaling $1,859,345; processed 103 gifts (including 10 stock gifts) totaling $9,373,839; and opened 6 new Donor Advised Funds!

During this giving spree, Global Citizen Year (GCY), a San Francisco based non-profit, received a grant from one of our donor advised funds in December of 2012. GCY promotes the global Bridge Year, a year of service and learning for graduated high school seniors before they begin college. Through facilitating this experience, GCY hopes to help create the next generation of global leaders by encouraging them to reimagine their own role in the world.

GCY recruits and trains high performing high school seniors to become Global Citizen Year Fellows, who then dedicate their Bridge Year to highly immersive apprenticeships in areas such as education, public health, or microfinance in communities throughout the developing world. The 2012 class of Fellows completed their apprenticeships in Brazil, Senegal and Ecuador. You can read about their experiences on their blog From the Field. Program fees for the experience are determined on a sliding scale, based on the ability of the Fellow and the Fellow’s family to contribute, and are capped at a tuition ceiling.

Quite a few colleges in the US are beginning to encourage college freshman to defer enrollment for one year, and spend that year learning outside the classroom. These colleges have noticed more maturity, focus and perspective in students who have taken a Bridge Year. You can read Harvard’s view on the Bridge Year, or Gap Year, on their website.

The CEO and founder of Global Citizen Year, Abigail Falik, announced a goal to facilitate a global Bridge Year for 10,000 American students by the year 2020. With a great start and a goal like that, we at RSF look forward to following their exciting story.

Ellie Lanphier is Program Assistant, Philanthropic Services at RSF Social Finance.

Year-End Giving

December 6, 2012

by Catherine Covington

‘Tis the season for charitable giving!  With only a few weeks left in 2012, it is time to start thinking about what charitable donations you would like to make this year if you have not done so already.  Charitable donations are an excellent way to reduce your tax burden for the year, and what better way to end the year than by making greater good possible.   If you intend to make a donation to RSF, start a donor advised fund, or make an addition to an existing fund, plan on getting those gifts in to RSF by no later than Friday, December 28th as our offices will be closed on Monday, December 31st.

Want to make a donation but having trouble deciding to which organization?  Let us help you decide!  We are always looking for additional support for the RSF Seed Fund, which makes small grants annually to support new initiatives that fall within RSF’s mission statement and focus areas.  If interested, please visit our donations page where you can easily make a credit card donation or contact me directly with any questions!

In 2012 Bikes Not Bombs received a Seed Fund grant to support its youth created and run mobile bike shop and mechanics training center.

Another worthwhile organization to consider is the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) located in Santa Cruz, CA.   OFRF is not only an RSF grantee but is also a Social Investment Fund investor!  OFRF cultivates organic research, education, and federal policy that brings more farmers and acreage into organic production.  Since its founding in 1990, OFRF has been a leading champion for American organic family farmers and envisions that one day, organic farming will be the leading form of agriculture in America.

One of OFRF’s four areas of focus is Education.  OFRF believes that improving organic education for all ages is critical if America is to transition to an organic farming majority.   An area of particular emphasis for OFRF is America’s universities.  The organic food industry has experienced more than quadruple growth in the last decade, and OFRF constantly assesses and reports how agricultural universities are helping meet organic consumer demand by training organic farmers, conducting useful research, and organizing effective outreach.

OFRF is currently Raising an Organic Barn to provide stronger structure to increase organic acreage and farmers in our country. Learn more here:

Catherine Covington is Senior Program Associate, Philanthropic Services at RSF Social Finance.

2012 May and June Grantmaking Activity: Global Greengrants

August 16, 2012

By Catherine Covington

 

Many of our donor advised fund clients recommend grants to domestic organizations that they have a close connection to.  Perhaps they have volunteered with the organization, know someone on the staff or board, have seen the impact of the organization’s work in their own community, or are passionate about an issue or problem the organization is tackling.  However, what does one do if you are passionate about supporting causes outside the U.S. but don’t know where to get started or what support is needed and where?

One of donor advisors recently recommended a grant to Global Greengrants, a domestic non-profit with international grantmaking expertise.   The mission of Global Greengrants is to mobilize resources for global environmental sustainability and social justice. It does so by raising money from individuals, foundations and corporations then donating those funds to worthy charitable causes around the world.  One might ponder the direct impact a gift to a regranting organization but Greengrants is able to add tremendous value to its donors’ gifts through its unique grantmaking model—small grants recommended by local experts.

Bidhichandrapur Chetana (BCC) is a community organization in West Bengal, India. The group has used 4 small grants from Greengrants to spread organic farming in their community. Photo by Tamsin Green.

Greengrants acts as a bridge between donors and local groups on the ground, and it does so through a model of activist-led grantmaking.  Greengrants has strong, local connections with extraordinary community leaders and activists around the world.  Journalists, lawyers, scientists, academics and a variety of other individuals act as advisors on nearly 20 advisory boards.  The advisors provide local knowledge and on-the-ground details, which are two key ingredients for making impactful grants at the grassroots level.  These advisors are often on the front lines enabling Greengrants to find promising grantees and ensure success through active monitoring and mentoring.   To learn more about Greengrants’ grantmaking model and the important challenges it is confronting in areas such as biodiversity conservation, climate justice, and food and agriculture, please check out its website.  My favorite page is the grantee highlights section!

During the months of March and April, RSF’s donor advisors recommended 66 grants from their Donor Advised Funds for a total disbursement amount of $1,002,334!  Donor Advised Funds are a unique charitable giving vehicle offered by RSF that allow donors to make tax-deductible contributions to RSF and then recommend grants from their fund to qualified nonprofit organizations of their choice.  A donor can be an individual, group, family, corporation, trust, or a foundation, and they benefit from access to RSF’s innovative Impact Investing Portfolios.  Unlike other Donor Advised Fund investment programs, a donor’s contribution is invested directly in enterprises and funds with core social and environmental missions to ensure greater mission-alignment and the deepest impact possible.

Catherine Covington is Senior Associate, Philanthropic Services at RSF Social Finance

Education & the Arts

Allgemeine Anthroposophische Gessellschaft
Inquiring Systems, Inc.
Villa Esperanza Services
Global Citizen Year
GreatNonProfits
Democracy Now!
Global Purpose
Duke University
Community School for Creative Education
Camphill Soltane
Tides Foundation
Collective Heritage Institute
Awakening Entelechy
Ecole Rudolf Steiner-Montreal
Marion Institute
Center for Biography and Social Art
Rose Rock School Foundation
Women’s Resource Center
Charter Foundation
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
Truthout
Maine People’s Resource Center
The University of Maine System, Inc.
Christian Community in New England
Christian Community – New York City
Consumers for Dental Choice
Pacific Zen Institute

 

Ecological Stewardship

Daily Acts
Science House Foundation
Bikes Not Bombs
Tengri School for Spiritual Ecology
The Cultural Conservancy
Georges River Land Trust
Amazon Conservation Team
Global Greengrants Fund

 

Food & Agriculture

New World Foundation
Filmmakers Collaborative
Dancers’ Group
stone circles
Trust for Conservation Innovation
Adelante Mujeres
Food Chain Workers Alliance
Creative Visions
Oakland Institute
Waldo Community Action Partners
Bay Area Center for Waldorf Teacher Training
Biodynamic Farming & Gardening Association
Spikenard Farm
Michael Fields Agricultural
Rockland Farm Alliance
 

Social Finance

Villgro Innovations Foundation
Commercial Fisherman of Santa Barbara
 

Other

Mali Health Organizing Project
Stanford University
Camphill Communities California
National Peace Corps
Southern Poverty Law Center
American Himalayan Foundation
 

Ultimate Impact: Unifying an Investment Portfolio within a Donor Advised Fund

July 26, 2012

At RSF, we have long valued the potential of Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) to maximize the impact that our clients’ funds can have in the world. Through our unique Impact Investing Portfolios, DAF dollars that have not yet been distributed as grants are placed in a mix of mission-aligned investment portfolios.

Donor Advised Funds have grown in use over recent decades, serving as the core philanthropic vehicle for community and public foundations and, more recently, being offered through commercial investment firms as a philanthropic option for clients. When linked with an impact investing strategy, the DAF may serve as a unique, focused asset management vehicle for creating a unified portfolio generating financial performance with social and environmental impacts. This Issue Brief co-authored by ImpactAssets, RSF Social Finance, and Tides introduces the concept and structure of DAFs and explores their potential as impact investing vehicles. The DAF as a core component of a unified investment approach is explored together with discussion of why DAFs are especially suited to impact investing.

Click here to download the full brief.

December 2011 Grant Making Activity with a Spotlight on B Lab and Pachamama Alliance

January 19, 2012

By Catherine Covington

So, you might know that RSF provides investing, lending, and giving services, but did you know that those services sometimes overlap, that a single organization and relationship can represent all three? We here at RSF are thrilled when such intersections present themselves in our day-to-day work as it helps us validate that our service areas are in alignment, making our goal to transform the way the world works with money that much more powerful. In December, we were reminded of the ability of different parts of our organization to work together when our RSF donor advisors chose to make grants to two RSF borrowers – B Lab and Pachamama Alliance.

Benefit corporations, or B Corps, are a new class of corporation that are required to create a material positive impact on society and the environment as well as meet higher standards of accountability and transparency. There has been lots of press about B corps in the news lately, particularly here in California, which became the sixth state to pass benefit corporation legislation in October of last year. What is not widely known is that there is a non-profit behind all of that work and positive press. That non-profit is called B Lab and they are a RSF borrower and grantee. B Lab has staff in Pennsylvania, New York, and San Francisco and is dedicated to effecting systemic change through three interrelated initiatives that not only includes promoting benefit corporation legislation, but building a community around Certified B Corporations and accelerating the growth of the impact investing asset class through use of the GIIRS Ratings and Analytics. RSF has had a longstanding relationship with B Lab, not to mention that our very own Don Shaffer was given a B Corp MVP award in 2010 for his significant support of B Lab initiatives.

Another borrower, investor, and grantee (we should have a special award for being all three!) is Pachamama Alliance, one of our fellow neighbors here in the Presidio. Founded in 1995, Pachamama is dedicated to protecting the Earth’s rain forests and the indigenous people who live within them. They seek to accomplish their mission by delivering educational experiences that are designed to inspire and educate individuals everywhere to bring forth a thriving, just, and sustainable world. The grant from RSF was specifically to support Pachamama’s Rights of Nature program, an innovative initiative focused on establishing a legal basis for protecting our planet. Building upon success in Ecuador, the first country in history to include Rights of Nature in its constitution in 2008, Pachamama helped form the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, a group of internationally recognized experts and leaders working for the universal adoption and implementation of Rights of Nature.

During the month of December, RSF’s donor advisors recommended 78 grants from their Donor Advised Funds for a total disbursement amount of $902,578! Donor Advised Funds are a unique charitable giving vehicle offered by RSF that allow donors to make tax-deductible contributions to RSF and then recommend grants from their fund to qualified nonprofit organizations of their choice. A donor can be an individual, group, family, corporation, trust, or a foundation, and they benefit from access to RSF’s innovative Impact Investment Portfolios. Unlike other Donor Advised Fund investment programs, a donor’s contribution is invested directly in enterprises and funds with core social and environmental missions to ensure greater mission-alignment and the deepest impact possible.

December 2011 Grantees:

Ecological Stewardship

American Himalayan Foundation
Earthfire Institute
Institut fur Stromungswissenschaften
Marion Institute
Ojai Foundation
Pachamama Alliance
Transportation Alternatives
Wildlife Conservation Network
World Wildlife Fund

Education & the Arts

Alaska Community Action on Toxics
Allgemeine Anthroposophische Gessellschaft
American Committee for the Weizmann Institute
Anthroposophical Society in America
Bainbridge Graduate Institute
Bay Area Center for Waldorf Teacher Training
Berkeley Public Library Foundation
Camphill Foundation
Center for Anthroposophy
Charter Foundation
Collective Heritage Institute
Cross-Cultural Thresholds
Detroit Waldorf School
Earth Island Institute
Family Planning Association
Fistula Foundation
Freunde der Erziehungskunst
Golden Courage International
GreatNonprofits
Homeless Children’s Network
Indiana University Foundation
International Media Project
J Street Education Fund
KQED
KRCB
Lionheart Foundation
Meadowbrook Waldorf Association
Mission Possible Kids
Muse Elementary School
Native American Community Board
Oberlin College
Pacific Institute
Peace Development Fund
Pine Hill Waldorf School
Proxy Democracy, Inc.
READ Global
Right to Dream
Rudolf Steiner College
School of Eurythmy
Seminary of the Christian Community
Shining Mountain Waldorf School
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
The Sonoma County Public Library Foundation
Threefold Educational Foundation
Triskeles Foundation
Trustees of Brantwood Camp
Union of Concerned Scientists
University of Central Oklahoma
University of Colorado Foundation
Waldorf Early Childhood Association
Walking the Dog Theater

Food & Agriculture

Growing Gardens
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Michael Fields Agricultural
Yggdrasil Land Foundation

Social Finance

Ashoka
B Lab

Other

Guide Dogs of America
STC Education and Leadership Fund

Catherine Covington is Senior Program Associate, Philanthropic Services at RSF Social Finance.

 

RSF Grantee Investigates Growth Structures for Social Enterprise

December 29, 2011

By Catherine Covington

There has been lots of buzz lately, on our blog and in many other places, about seeking alternatives to big banking. Amidst the activity that resulted from the Move Your Money campaign, including lots of new RSF Social Investment Fund accounts, I was excited to witness one of our donor advised fund clients take action to support the growth and development of community development finance institutions (CDFI’s) by making a grant to Southern Bancorp Capital Partners.

Southern Bancorp Capital Partners (SBCP) is a non-profit affiliate of Southern Bancorp America’s largest rural development bank (RSF has an existing relationship with Southern Bancorp, having made an investment in this CDFI from our Liquidity Portfolio some years ago). Southern operates community banks and development organizations that work together to promote comprehensive development in the Delta region of Arkansas and Mississippi. SBCP is a 501(c)(3) organization and a U.S. Treasury certified CDFI providing development lending services and technical assistance to entrepreneurs and small business owners and facilitating strategic community planning and development in selected communities. The mission of SBCP is to revitalize struggling rural communities by promoting comprehensive development. It does this by supporting quality educational opportunities for residents of all ages, restarting the local economy, rebuilding the civic infrastructure, fostering the emergence of new leadership, addressing health care needs, and creating new homeownership and affordable housing opportunities. SBCP has created and saved thousands of jobs and generated millions of dollars of investments in the communities it serves.

The grant from RSF was directed to a research project focused on exploring capital markets for CDFI banks and other social enterprises, which have historically faced growth and social impact restrictions due to the limited liquidity of their capital. While socially motivated investors may be willing and able to give up some financial returns on their capital, they are rarely eager to give up the return of their capital. This perceived and oftentimes real lack of liquidity related to CDFI’s can be a huge barrier for prospective investors, thus preventing the capital infusions and equity needed for anything beyond organic growth. The goal of the research project is to engage one or more experts with extensive experience in financial analysis of community banks and traditional capital markets to explore possible exit options for investors in CDFI’s and other social enterprises that can be offered without diminishing the organization’s social impact. Key topics to be addressed include maintaining control over social mission while broadening ownership structure, appropriate capital structure and blend of financial returns, the suitability of traditional markets for hybrid enterprises, implications for the entire field of social finance, etc. The goal for the research project is to devise a successful capital structure strategy that will further enable and allow organizations like Southern Bancorp to grow, further their impact, and act as model social enterprises.

This grant to Southern Bancorp was one of 59 recommended by RSF’s donor advisors from their Donor Advised Funds during the months of October and November for a total disbursement amount of $959,352.43!

Donor Advised Funds are a unique charitable giving vehicle offered by RSF that allow donors to make tax-deductible contributions to RSF and then recommend grants from their fund to qualified non-profit organizations of their choice. A donor can be an individual, group, family, corporation, trust, or a foundation, and they benefit from access to RSF’s innovative Impact Investment Portfolios. Unlike other Donor Advised Fund investment programs, a donor’s contribution is invested directly in enterprises and funds with core social and environmental missions to ensure greater mission-alignment and the deepest impact possible.

October and November 2011 Grantees:

Ecological Stewardship

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center
Nature Conservancy
Times Up
Triskeles Foundation

Education & the Arts

Artemisia Associate (AAMTA)
American Society for Technion
AnewAmerica Community Corporation
Aspen Waldorf Foundation, Inc.
Association of Waldorf Schools, North America
Austin Eurythmy Ensemble
Camphill Special Schools – Beaver Run
Camphill Village Copake Foundation, Inc.
Center for Anthroposophy
Charter Foundation
Community Supported Anthroposophical Medicine
Crosspulse
Daily Acts
eLib, Inc.
EPHAS Productions
Fielding Graduate University
Freunde der Erziehungskunst
Green Mountain Branch of the ASA
Hawthorne Valley Association
Heartbeet Lifesharing Corporation
Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy
LifeLong Medical Care
Maine People’s Resource Center
Marin Community Foundation
Marion Institute
Pacific Zen Institute
President and Fellows of Harvard College
Room to Read
Rudolf Steiner Fellowship
Rudolf Steiner Press
Shade Tree Multicultural Foundation
Sound Circle Eurythmy
Southeastern Branch of Anthroposophical Society
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
Suncoast Waldorf Association
The Nature Institute

Food & Agriculture

Biodynamic Farming & Gardening Association
Michael Fields Agricultural Institute
Open Space Institute
Slow Food U.S.A.
Spikenard Farm
Sustainable Connections
Sustainable Harvest International
The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine
Worldwatch Institute

Social Finance

Eyebeam Atelier
Root Capital
Southern Bancorp Capital Partners

Catherine Covington is Program Associate, Philanthropic Services at RSF Social Finance.

June & July Grantmaking Activity

August 25, 2011

By Catherine Covington

During the months of June and July, RSF’s donor advisors recommended 46 grants from their Donor Advised Funds for a total disbursement amount of $536,211.69! Donor Advised Funds are a unique charitable giving vehicle offered by RSF that allow donors to make tax-deductible contributions to RSF and then recommend grants from their fund to qualified nonprofit organizations of their choice. A donor can be an individual, group, family, corporation, trust, or a foundation, and they benefit from access to RSF’s innovative Impact Investment Portfolios. Unlike other Donor Advised Fund investment programs, a donor’s contribution is invested directly in enterprises and funds with core social and environmental missions to ensure greater mission-alignment and the deepest impact possible.

 

Tunis, Jacob, and Katahdin sheep are raised at Hidden Villa as a part of their animal husbandry program. Photo courtesy of Hidden Villa

Spotlight on Hidden Villa

Hidden Villa is a non-profit education organization that stretches over 1600 beautiful acres of open space in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains about 40 miles south of San Francisco. With a mission to inspire a just and sustainable future through its programs, lands and legacy, it uses an organic farm, wilderness, and community to teach and provide opportunities to learn about the environment and social justice. It was founded by Frank and Josephine Duveneck, who purchased the land in 1924 and were determined to be the best stewards of the land possible. Over the following decades, the Duvenecks established the first Hostel on the Pacific Coast (1937), the first multiracial summer camp (1945), and Hidden Villa’s Environmental Education Program (1970). The Trust for Hidden Villa was established as a non-profit in 1960.

Every year 30,000 people participate in one of Hidden Valley’s formal programs which consist of school programs, summer camps, individual programs available to the public, and sustainable agriculture programs. An additional 20,000 visitors come to the preserve annually to explore the farm and gardens or to hike on the eight miles of trails. Its constituents cover a wide spectrum of age, physical ability, geography, ethnicity, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds and its organic farm, rustic barns, newer sustainable structures and pristine riparian, woodland and chaparral wilderness provide opportunities to experience the beauty of our environment on a first hand basis.

The key activities within Hidden Villa’s focus on Sustainable Agriculture are the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and the animal husbandry program. Hidden Villa manages a small-scale, organic farm. The farming practices are driven by its agricultural mission to produce the best quality vegetables, fruits, meat, and eggs for local markets and to support Hidden Villa’s educational programs by modeling sustainable, organic practices that minimize outside inputs, promote biodiversity, honor labor, value animal welfare, and respect the capacity and wildness of the land.

RSF is proud to support Hidden Villa. To learn more or to plan a visit, please check out their website.

 

June and July 2011 Grantees:

Education & the Arts

Alliance for Childhood, Inc.
Chengdu Waldorf School
Community for the Renewal of Education and Work
Freunde der Erziehungskunst
Green America
GreatNonProfits
Global Citizen Year
Creative Works of Lancaster
Collective Heritage Institute
Dancers’ Group
Green Meadow Waldorf School
High Mowing School
Charter Foundation
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
Friends of CRAFT, Inc.
Shade Tree Multicultural Foundation
Hidden Villa
Maine Initiatives
Shining Mountain Waldorf School
Washington Waldorf School
Davis Waldorf School
Portland Waldorf School
Marin Waldorf School
Waldorf School of Orange County
Seattle Waldorf School
Hawthorne Valley School
Tucson Waldorf Education Association
Housatonic Valley School
Waldorf School of Atlanta
Charter Foundation
Waldorf School of Garden City
Westside Waldorf School
Honolulu Waldorf School
Pasadena Waldorf School
Cape Ann Waldorf School
Woodland Star Educational
Seminary of the Christian Community
International Community Foundation
American Hero Quilts

Food & Agriculture

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute

Other

National Peace Corps
Feeding America
Give2Asia

Catherine Covington is Program Associate, Philanthropic Services at RSF Social Finance.

April and May 2011 Grant Making Activity

June 22, 2011

By Catherine Covington

During the months of April and May, RSF’s donor advisors recommended 65 grants from their Donor Advised Funds for a total disbursement amount of $1,108,627! Donor Advised Funds are a unique charitable giving vehicle offered by RSF that allow donors to make tax-deductible contributions to RSF and then recommend grants from their fund to qualified non-profit organizations of their choice. A donor can be an individual, group, family, corporation, trust, or a foundation, and they benefit from access to RSF’s innovative Impact Investment Portfolios. Unlike other Donor Advised Fund investment programs, a donor’s contribution is invested directly in enterprises and funds with core social and environmental missions to ensure greater mission-alignment and the deepest impact possible.

Spotlight on Every Person Has a Story (EPHAS)

One of May’s grantees was Every Person Has a Story (EPHAS), www.ephas.org, an organization dedicated to bringing voice to underserved or overlooked groups through photography and creating cross-cultural communities through the sharing of vision and imagery of our own individual worlds. EPHAS brings opportunities to learn, practice, communicate and connect through media arts to students worldwide by funding and facilitating photography clinics in the US and in developing nations. Participants connect with each other and a broader audience using the web, creating a chance for everyone to explore the common threads that tie their stories together.

In 2003, Ryan Ansin founded EPHAS as a business initiative to create promotional videos for non-profits. When asked to film a documentary on water purification in Rwanda, Ryan had an idea—why not let the people most affected by the day-to-day conditions and challenges in their communities capture and document their own circumstances? His idea was to teach the non-profit’s constituents, who were struggling to improve the cleanliness of their local community’s water, how to best photograph and record their lives. In April 2010, Ryan set off to conduct proof of concept experiments at more familiar locations in Cambodia where he had long-standing relationships. He taught for three weeks at various rehabilitation centers for war-inflicted wounds, and within the first week, he could sense he was on to something. When he returned to the US, he immediately set to work. EPHAS Productions, Inc. was officially incorporated on June 20, 2010 and became a 501(c)(3) non-profit on September 14th, 2010.

Finally visiting Rwanda after a postponement due to the presidential campaign in Kigali, Ansin and two board members, Alexander Magnin and Andrew Kurban, set out to implement the workshops at schools in Karambi and Gitwe. To validate EPHAS’ theory, this could not have gone better. Students learned photography in August. Construction began for a 7.2 km waterpipe in January, giving participants plenty of time to practice. Since then, EPHAS has received weekly shots of the construction, and more recently, waterspouts that are now flowing with clean water directly from the source. The affects of purified water on a culture are next to come in EPHAS’ ever-flowing series of images.

The goal of EPHAS’ Domestic Program is to expose youth to different cultures through the photos taken by its foreign student partners. EPHAS has partnered with many middle schools and high schools in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Illinois, and Nebraska (and they are always looking for more!) to achieve an exchange of photos and ideas between students of similar ages.

To learn more about EPHAS and to help them connect with opportunities or schools that might be interested in having an EPHAS representative speak and work with your students, please feel free to contact them directly. Take a look at the video below to see some of the amazing images taken as a result of EPHAS.

April and May 2011 Grantees:

Ecological Stewardship

Amazon Conservation Team

Georges River Land Trust

Land Conservation and Advocacy Trust

Marion Institute

Ojai Foundation

Threshold, Inc.

 

Education & the Arts

American Committee for the Weizmann Institute

ANAI, Inc.

Aspen Grove Project

Aspen Waldorf Foundation

Bainbridge Graduate Institute

Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic

Charter Foundation

Cittaslow Sonoma Valley

Community Initiatives

Consumers for Dental Choice

Cross-Cultural Thresholds

Dharma Foundation

EPHAS Productions

Freunde der Erziehungskunst

Global Citizen Year

Golden Courage International

National Multiple Sclerosis Society

On the Commons

Pfeiffer Center

Philanthropy Workshop West

Sacramento Waldorf School

Shade Tree Multicultural Foundation

Shining Rivers Waldorf School

Steiner Books

Summerfield Waldorf School

Tara Institute of the Performing Arts

The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine

Threefold Educational Foundation

Tides Center

Triskeles Foundation

Tucson Meet Yourself

Tucson Waldorf Education Association

 

Food & Agriculture

Community CROPS

Grow Food

Growing Gardens of Boulder County

Pie Ranch

The City Repair Project

Trust for Conservation Innovation

 

Social Finance

Capital Institute

Slow Money

The International Society for Ecology and Culture

March Grant Making Activity and Spotlight on Women’s Initiative for Self Employment

May 2, 2011

by Catherine Covington

During the month of March, RSF’s donor advisors recommended 39 grants from their Donor Advised Funds for a total disbursement amount of $363,657.  Donor Advised Funds are a unique charitable giving vehicle offered by RSF that allow donors to make tax-deductible contributions to RSF and then recommend grants from their fund to qualified nonprofit organizations of their choice.  A donor can be an individual, group, family, corporation, trust, or a foundation, and they benefit from access to RSF’s innovative Impact Investment Portfolios.  Unlike other Donor Advised Fund investment programs, a donor’s contribution is invested directly in enterprises and funds with core social and environmental missions to ensure greater mission-alignment and the deepest impact possible.

Spotlight on Women’s Initiative for Self Employment

One of March’s grantees was Women’s Initiative for Self Employment (www.womensinitiative.org), a Bay Area non-profit with a mission to build the entrepreneurial capacity of women to overcome economic and social barriers and achieve self-sufficiency.  It provides high-potential, lower-income women the training, resources and on-going support to start and grow their business.

Women’s Initiative has been assisting women-owned businesses throughout the San Francisco Bay Area since 1988 and currently operates seven training sites.  Women are empowered to start a new business or expand an existing business through an intensive 20-session program, taught in English or Spanish.

Graduates of the program have access to valuable one-on-one consultation and coaching sessions with expert trainers, monthly networking opportunities and ongoing training through its SuccessLink Program.  Since inception, Women’s Initiative has served more than 22,000 women, helping them directly contribute to the health of their communities.   Some examples of the program’s results include:

  • Annual household income for participants entering the business training program is just $22,000. One year after training, it leaps to nearly $35,000.
  • The women who participated in the training last year will bring in an estimated $18.8 million in 2011. Over the next five years, gross receipts for the class of 2010 will total an estimated $125.4 million.
  • One year after training 90% of graduates reported being employed or self-employed.
  • In 2011, recent graduates (classes of 2006-2010) will create an estimated 3,818 jobs.
  • 57% of Women’s Initiative graduates have “green” businesses and sell products and services that are non-polluting and leave a small carbon footprint.

In 2009, Women’s Initiative hosted award ceremonies in all five Bay Area counties honoring trailblazing women entrepreneurs who have demonstrated leadership in their field and in the community.  Enjoy the video below which highlights a woman from our very own San Francisco County!

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/7733758[/vimeo]

March 2011 Grantees:

Ecological Stewardship

Conservation Strategy Fund

Education & the Arts

Youth for Environmental Sanity

Pomegranate Center

Sierra Nevada College

Center for Mind Body Medicine

Yuan Tze Ren Xue Center, Inc.

Collective Heritage Institute

Foundation for the People of Burma

Women’s Initiative for Self Employment

Duane Elgin

GreatNonProfits

Women’s Initiative for Self Employment

Associazione per la Pedagogia

Helen Lubin

Shining Mountain Waldorf School

Summerfield Waldorf School

Seattle Waldorf School

Three Cedars School

Cedar Springs Waldorf School

Waldorf School of th Peninsula

Charter Foundation

Global Fund for Women

Community Services Agency

Homeboy Industries

The Art of Yoga Project

Maine People’s Resource Center

Cooperative Development Institute

Tucson Waldorf Education Associoation

Christian Community in North America Central Fund

American Red Cross

Threshold Foundation

Threshold Foundation

Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity

Pacific Zen Institute

 

Food & Agriculture

Navdanya

Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association

Spikenard Farm

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute

Social Finance

Slow Money

Catherine Covington is Program Associate, Philanthropic Services at RSF Social Finance.

Donor Advised Funds

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