Lumina Foundation wants to help 16.4 million people get a quality credential by 2025, and they're looking for entrepreneurs with the vision to help realize that goal.
- Lumina Foundation's goal is to help people across the U.S. get a quality post-secondary education.
- To do that, it's providing grants, helping to shape policy, and it's investing in innovative entrepreneurs through the Lumina Impact Ventures program.
- Lumina is looking to partner with entrepreneurs who are dedicated to helping students gain a fulfilling post-secondary education and for whom Lumina Foundation can be a strong value-add partner.
- In 2019, Lumina Foundation and Big Think teamed up to create the Lumina Prize, a search to find the most innovative and scalable ideas in post-secondary education. You can see the winners of the Lumina Prize here – congratulations to PeerForward and Greater Commons!
Cutting edge social innovators should consider hybrid models
Over the past fifteen years, I've had the opportunity to provide strategy for well over a hundred social change start-ups seeking to make the world a better place. The most common question they ask, "Should we be a for-profit or a nonprofit."
My answer, "Why not consider both?" Let's review the advantages and disadvantages.
The nonprofit optionHuman hands holding polygonal heartHuman hands holding polygonal heart. Love, peace and donation concept. Charity event. Vector illustration for non-profit organisation
The nonprofit option is the most popular choice with over $410 billion given to 1.5 million nonprofits last year alone. Nonprofit leaders report back to me four primary advantages to this legal structure:
- "My donors get a tax deduction."
- "Foundations prefer giving to nonprofit entities."
- "Nonprofits have a good brand in our culture."
- "We don't have to pay taxes!"
They also cite three major disadvantages:
- "I feel like I'm in constant fundraising mode—I'm chasing donors not solving problems."
- "Instead of seeing our impact, donors scrutinize my salary and overhead costs."
- "No matter how much sweat equity I put into my work, I have no financial gain to show for it."
Impact investing for for-profit social ventures
The rise of impact investing into for-profit social ventures makes this is a powerful alternative to the nonprofit model. The Global Impact Investing Network reported that "225 investors, including pension funds, invested $35.5 billion across 11,136 impact investment deals in 2017. That is up 58% from $22.1 billion across 7,951 deals in 2016." That $35 billion is getting pretty close to the $66.90 billion donated by charitable foundations in 2017.
Nonprofit leaders are also looking toward for profit earned income as part of their future as well. A recent Bridgespan Group survey of US nonprofits' executives reported they "believe earned income would play an important role in bolstering their organizations' revenue in the future." According to Echoing Green, a nonprofit with a 25-year record of supporting early-stage social entrepreneurs, the proportion of their applicant pool proposing for-profit and hybrid organizations has grown to nearly 50 percent, compared to 15 percent in 2006.
For-profit social ventures name three primary advantages to choosing this model.
- "I no longer feel like I'm begging donors year in and year out."
- "There's untapped capital out there without sufficient social ventures to invest in."
- "We put in our own sweat equity and as owners, I might get a great long term financial return for my work."
Social ventures also described to me three disadvantages.
- "I don't know how to find impact investors."
- "We aren't able to get funding from foundations or other traditional donors."
- "It's hard to measure and report out both impact measurement and return on investment to investors."
Hybrid models that include both for-profit and nonprofit entities can maximize the advantages of each model, while minimizing the disadvantages. These hybrids come in many shapes and sizes.
A Case Study: Town Stages
A Town Stages production space
A good examples of a hybrid model was reported in Forbes magazine by Carey Purcell. In the article titled, "How a 'Robin Hood' Business Model Supports an Artistic Clubhouse in Tribeca," she tells the story of Town Stages LLC a "female-driven cultural institution and event venue owned by a nonprofit Sokoloff Arts." The founder Robin Sokoloff wanted to provide spaces to work and live for artists like herself to survive ever-rising NYC rent. Town Stages, with space rentals for weddings, bar mitzvahs, and business events, subsidizes Sokoloff Art fellows.
Artists can rent the space at the rate they can afford, and the revenue is used to subsidize other emerging artists. Not only does she provide spaces for artists, but her organization is also focused on the advancement of young women, minorities, and LGBTQ voices. Town Stages has become a home for underrepresented voices in the community and was able to expand its impact thanks to the success of her first artistic hub. Since 2012, they allowed 70,000 people to create almost 900 different works of art.
Social Venture hybrids have some profound advantages, especially when it comes to fundraising and equity. In particular, they allow the social venture to say "yes" to both impact investors and traditional foundations. They allow social entrepreneur teams to be owners and get a financial reward for the unpaid time they invest in the cause.
"Guard Rails" required
Hybrids also have the disadvantage of requiring more well thought out accounting "guard rails" to make sure the organization operates legally — nonprofit money must always serves the public interest, not someone's private interest. Arron M. Fox CPA at the Senior Tax Manager, at Raffa, Marcum's Nonprofit and Social Sector Group describes one way to create a hybrid model called a for-profit subsidiary in his piece "Considerations When Creating a For-Profit Subsidiary."
Rich Tafel is the Director of Raffa Social Capital Advisors - Marcum's Nonprofit and Social Sector Group
Marcum LLP. Rich.Tafel@MarcumLLP.com
How do you make yourself valuable in an ever-changing economy? You become well-rounded.
Bill Drayton, the founder and CEO of social entrepreneurship firm Ashoka, thinks that doing business today relies on being as prismatic and as open as possible. That's how you become, as he puts it, a "change maker." The world doesn't need more specialists, he posits, because well-rounded people open to new ideas and learning new skills can fit just about anywhere.
The best career advice that you are not getting? Financial feminist and Wall Street powerhouse Sallie Krawcheck delivers.
Sallie Krawcheck is the current CEO of Ellevest (a digital investment platform for women), is a former CFO and CEO at Citigroup and Merrill Lynch respectively, and is a self-described "financial feminist". She speaks here to women, but this advice can be applied across the board to anyone who is marginalized in the workplace or wants to jumpstart their personal wealth. For Krawcheck, the best career advice no one is talking about is actually financial advice: invest. Make your money work while you do, so that you have more financial freedom to make confident decisions in your career: ask for a promotion, quit the job that doesn't treat you well, or test your own business ideas. If you have money in the bank, you are free to play looser with your decisions. Men do it, and women should too. Remember this: "Ladies, we will not be equal with men until we are financially equal with men," Krawcheck says. Her second piece of advice is to ask for more money from your very first job, and to plant the seeds of a 12-pronged pay-rise request far in advance. Twelve prongs? Yep. It will all makes sense once you hear out her incredible guide to negotiating a salary increase and closing the gender pay gap. Sallie Krawcheck is the author of Own It: The Power of Women at Work.
In a world afraid of embarrassment, asking dumb questions is a super power, says Tim Ferriss. It takes a secure intellect to risk looking silly, but the rewards are there for the taking.
Chris Sacca is very good at asking dumb questions, says Tim Ferriss – and Ferriss means it as a compliment. Years ago, Sacca got an entry-level job at Google and invited himself along to executive meetings where, once people got used to his strange presence, he started asking dumb questions, chiming in with the obvious things that no one was bringing up. "He's created some incredible breakthroughs in investing as a result of that," says Ferriss. In a world where everyone is afraid of looking stupid, a lot of basic improvements and ideas get missed for fear of embarrassment. Through several anecdotes amassed during the writing of his new book Tools of Titans, Ferriss makes a case for being more intellectually secure in yourself so that you can raise your hand without fear, ask a dumb question, and actually become smarter. And in Sacca's case, wealthier. Tim Ferriss is the author of Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers.
Tim Ferriss' most recent book is Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers.