Chuck Harris is co-founder of SeaChange Capital Parters (see profile in the New York Times). His organization was on my list of organizations utilizing the model I described in my post Investing in Nonprofits. He’s left a comment with his own thoughts on investing in nonprofits vs. executing a foundation designed program through buying services from nonprofits.
On behalf of SeaChange Capital Partners, let me add to the excellent comments from George Overholser and Jeff Berndt.
At SeaChange Capital, we also take an enterprise-centric approach, believing that outstanding entrepreneurs and their boards and management teams deserve and require unrestricted, multi-year philanthropic support in pursuit of significant increases in impact. Certainly this is how great companies are funded, and while acknowledging imperfect mapping between business and social enterprise, we do believe the equity investor’s mindset is applicable to both sectors.
We add to this the conviction that, as the social problems faced by children and youth in our low-income communities are enormous in scale, at least some of the responses need to be of scale as well. This suggests that the funding required from the philanthropic sector, often and ideally in partnership with government, needs to be quite large, larger than any single funder can provide. So we have taken on the assignment of supplementing our own resources with those of a national network of wealthy individuals and families who see the need to act collaboratively, with SeaChange Capital conducting significant due diligence (including utilizing prior research done by others willing to share their insights) and working to arrange the multi-party financings.
Yes, only time will tell if well-capitalized nonprofit enterprises can effect meaningful social change. I would suggest that results from the handful of youth-serving organizations that have achieved financings of this nature (see, for example, Teach for America, College Summit, Year Up, Youth Villages, Citizen Schools) support our thesis.
Thanks for engaging the conversation.