The $25 Billion Question: Idea #2 Mutual Funds

To read the full blog, click Philanthropy 2225

For the problem statement to which this post is a brainstorm, scroll down to "The $25 Billion Question: December 14, 2004"

How about values-screened mutual funds that draw donors to issues and grow everyone's gifts? Here's how it might work:

Environmental groups and foundations band together to develop a strategy for addressing an issue, lets say ocean pollution. They pull together the criteria by which other organizations that work on ocean pollution could address the issue and each contribute to a set of meaningful outcomes. They vet the organizations against the criteria (the criteria are public), they get agreements from the organizations to work together as set forth in the strategy and toward the outcomes, and they then turn to "NPO mutual fund purveyor" to market the fund, lets call it the "Clean Oceans Fund." The Clean Ocean Fund is then open for investment: anyone can get in, big foundations, individual donors, charitable gift funds, etc. The criteria and vetted organizations list serve as prospectus, regular progress reports toward the common outcomes serve as quarterly reports. Community foundations, charitable gift funds, private banks, private foundations, networks of grantmakers, ocean communities can all get into the fund and monitor the progress toward the objectives. A small fee (no load!) is built into the price of investment (Only $9.99 per Trade! Think online trading) that pays for marketing, due diligence and performance monitoring by the NPO Mutual Fund Purveyor. The dollars invested go to the groups in the fund.

Repeat across issue areas - education programs, campaign reform, health access, independent film creation, etc.. Market through every available philanthropic financial purveyor as time-saving, return oriented, funds screen based on values and issues.

Existing efforts to work from: Funding Exchange docket online

How does it fill the $25 b gap? By encouraging more donors to participate, by giving everyone access to credible, independent information, and by making the price of entry low, more people with small discretionary resources can get in the fund.

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