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2020 Reflections and Looking Ahead

Dear Clients & Friends, 

After a year like no other, and so many unknowns still ahead, we are finding solace in our inspiring community of investors, donors, social enterprises, partners, and allies 

This community continues to take positive action to address the global pandemic, climate change, and social injustice. While much more work and healing is needed, the following highlights make us feel hopeful about 2021. 

Giving soars to record levels 

RSF’s Donor Advised Fund (DAF) clients are active philanthropists whose giving increased in response to the pandemic and the racial justice movement. We saw record contributions to RSF DAFs and record grants to non-profits.  

While the RSF DAF payout rate typically exceeds the national average (44% vs. 21in 2019), RSF DAFs had a payout rate of 72% in 2020. Donors contributed $57 million to their funds last yearalmost twice our projectionWe made over 2,000 grants totaling close to $42 million, far exceeding any previous year, with 9% of the grants funding pandemic-related needs and 41% supporting racial and social justice initiatives. 

Soul Fire Farmfor example, seeks to end racism and injustice in the food system and address systemic racism overall. The Grafton, New York, enterprise teaches and uses regenerative Afro-indigenous farming methods, empowering BIPOC farmers, addressing the lack of access to fresh food in underserved neighborhoods, and advocating for land reparations.  

Lending programs help social entrepreneurs thrive 

RSF responded to a spectrum of needs in our Social Enterprise Lending portfolio. Some borrowers, particularly those in the food and agricultural sector, have seen increased demand during the pandemic, and we have helped them meet it with additional financing. Others, including many Waldorf schools, have felt the impacts of COVID-19, and RSF has been working closely with them to navigate the uncertainty. Our portfolio is doing well overall. 

At the same time, our funding collaboratives have provided creative support to entrepreneurs who face persistent funding barriers. In 2020, RSF partnered with two organizations to support Black women business owners in the South: Mississippi-based Higher Purpose Co., an economic justice nonprofit dedicated to using the power of ownership to help Black communities thrive in the state, and Communities Unlimited, Inc., an Arkansas-based community development financial institution. The partnership reserves a pool of funds from RSF’s Women’s Capital Collaborative that CU leverages to provide loans to Black women entrepreneurs mentored by HPC 

Financial activist network continues to grow 

RSF created the Integrated Capital Institute in 2017 to train a diverse group of financial advisors, investors, foundation leaders, and community organizers to challenge assumptions about money, collaborate effectivelyand apply an integrated capital approach to systemic problems. Through 2020, the ICI has supported over 100 fellows, two-thirds of them women, varying in age, ethnicity, location, and economic background 

With the ICI’s approach and impact proven, the project will spin off from RSF as a separate entity, the Just Economy Institute, in mid-2021. This move will allow the institute to broaden its scopeprovide more support to fellows and alumni, and grow its support base. RSF is enormously proud of the ICI’s achievements and will continue to be a strong partner for the independent institute. 

Farewell and thank you to John Bloom and Donna Daniels 

We said farewell to John Bloom, who devoted 23 years to RSF as our vice president of organizational cultureat the end of 2020. John made countless contributions to RSF, supporting individuals and the organization by creating space for exploration, reflection, and connection in service to our mission. In January, Donna Daniels, RSF’s vice president of philanthropic services, accepted an offer to join the Heron Foundation as vice president of integrated capitals and communities. Donna was instrumental in broadening our offerings to provide donors more opportunities to engage with innovative giving models, and we are committed to building on her work.  

Thank you, John and Donna, and warm wishes for your next chapter. 

Looking aheadoutstanding new board members  

We are honored to welcome four new Board of Trustee members: 

  • Amir Kirkwood, Chief Lending and Investment Officer, Opportunity Finance Network  
  • CJ Callen, Manager, CZI Community at Chan Zuckerberg Initiative  
  • Dr. David E. McClean, Principal, The DMA Consulting Group 
  • Lee Merkle-Raymond, Senior Managing Director, Hercules Capital, Inc. 

These leaders add diversity of expertise and life experiences to our board, and we’re looking forward to working with them this year to create a more just economy. 

Transforming money 

We closed 2020 with the launch of the website and video Transform Your Money, made to inspire people to activate more of their money for positive social and environmental change. We encourage you to send friends, family, and colleagues to MoneyTransforms.com.  

We have never been more committed to putting relationships at the center of economic life, transforming the role of money, and activating capital towards justice, regeneration, and compassion. We begin 2021 with a renewed resolve to become an anti-racist organizationsupport values-driven investors and donors, and circulate money to change-making social enterprises. 

We couldn’t do this work without you. Thank you for being part of the RSF community.  

With gratitude, 

Jasper van Brakel, CEO
Ron Alston, Board Chair

p.s. Please note that we are no longer publishing our print newsletter. To receive our email newsletter, please sign up at: rsfsocialfinance.org/connect. 

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