Venture Philanthropy 2.0 in Philanthropy News Digest
If you've been reading PhilanthroMedia, you know venture philanthropy is back and that it has morphed in some significant ways from its first incarnation during the dot.com boom. I've got a piece in the newest issue of Philanthropy News Digest that summarizes some of the differences which include:
Ambition has increased immensely. These donors aren't content simply to make progress against global problems; they intend to solve them. Most of us working in the nonprofit sector have had to raise money a nickel and dime at a time. We have never had the luxury of assuming that, with the right approach, we could get all the money we needed to implement solutions. These guys do it every day in business and they don't stop with their philanthropy.
Nonprofits aren't the only game in town. In Version 1.0, donors looked exclusively to nonprofits to implement their ambitions. The literature is rife with descriptions of the predictable conflicts that occurred when Type A venture philanthropists met Type A executive directors. In Version 2.0, however, some donors are avoiding these struggles by establishing for-profit or hybrid models that effortlessly leverage their expertise. This may not be good news for fundraisers, but it significantly expands the universe of resources being brought to bear on social challenges.
Innovation vs. organization. In Version 1.0, practitioners worked to scale promising ideas by building the capacity of promising nonprofits. The focus in Version 2.0 is less about organizations and more about innovations like microfinance and $100 laptops. Donors targeting millions of beneficiaries worldwide can't just build one organization when a wide array of cross-sectoral alliances is required.
My position in the article is that these shifts require nonprofit practitioners to more deeply explore how they can engage their donors and the skills those donors have developed in the rapidly evolving world of business and technology. The opposite notion, which is that donors should write the checks and leave the heavy lifting to nonprofit professionals, has prevailed far too long.