Dan Steif, Chief Business Officer, Full Circle Fund
If we want different results, we must do things differently. Amidst the backdrop of an already challenging COVID-19 environment, the recent events of police brutality amongst Black communities have led to an increasingly catalytic moment in our country's history. Companies and the executives that run them are beginning to come to terms with the systems of inequality (and our lack of action to change them) that have disproportionately held back communities of color in America for centuries. Business leaders are more motivated than ever to take action, yet many don’t have the experience or the training to effectively respond.
Full Circle Fund’s proven model pairs senior business leaders with local nonprofits serving under-represented communities to drive significant value. Executives attend Power & Privilege training, are taught how to be effective nonprofit partners, and then put those skills to practice. 100% of nonprofits increase their capacity to serve and participants give substantially more of their personal resources away as a result of their experience.
Shortly after joining Full Circle Fund (FCF) in 2018, I wrote an article titled "Why I Joined a Nonprofit. We had just completed the first pilot Tech Accelerator Fund, saw some strong early results, and I joined FCF full-time to be part of a team with a vision to scale our organization’s impact.
The Tech Accelerator Fund is a focused grant-making program that was built collaboratively with the nonprofit sector, using their insights on real community needs to supply the right volunteer partners to support their goals. We source local, high potential, high-impact, early-stage nonprofits, and pair them with Bay Area tech leaders who pool their financial and intellectual capital to propel nonprofit growth.
We launched several more Tech Accelerators in the months following, leveling-up the program significantly each time.
By the start of 2019, word was spreading about the success of the program for participants and nonprofits alike. Companies began asking if their employees could participate.
Erin Baudo Felter (VP of Social Impact at Okta) and Bryan Breckenridge (Head of Social Impact at Zillow Group) were the two visionary leaders who raised their hands to spearhead the first company accelerator. FCF would partner directly with Silicon Valley’s top tech companies, who would in turn fund the program and refer their employees to participate. But not just any employee.
Organizational culture is led from the top. To create real change, we needed executives to join the accelerator. And we needed them to understand that effective philanthropy is more than just writing a check. It’s listening, learning, and committing your intellectual capital and network. It’s also partnering with nonprofits, not as problem solvers, but as collaborators, working to advance solutions our nonprofit partners are already building. With this new mindset, they could swiftly shift resources to begin the hard and necessary work of creating a more equitable world.
The problems nonprofits face can be solved by pairing them with the right people that are willing to help. This was a radical first-hand experience I gathered from my participating in the program. We should have more of this.
–Josue Estrada, COO, Salesforce.org, (Currently COO, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative)
Together they accelerated three Bay Area nonprofits:
Career Village: With support on digital ads, strategic partnerships, and an optimized UI/UX, CareerVillage increased their new professional signups by 20,000 (50% increase)!
Community Connect Labs: Secured contract with the State of Illinois to conduct Census outreach and partnership that brought in 2,000 referrals for mental health services and 4,000 referrals for social assistance in Illinois.
One Degree: Redesigned email marketing and led UX/UI refresh to increase utilization of its social and economic mobility support services on the platform by ~5%.
The accelerator concluded in May of 2020. Grant Partners (the nonprofits who received grants) and Members (the executives who participated) were asked to fill out a detailed survey so we could understand their experience.
The impact for Grant Partners was significant and the experience for Members was transformative:
100% of Grant Partners reported increases in capacity (program delivery and technical infrastructure)
87% of Members reported that the amount of time they volunteer each year increased or substantially increased and 93% plan to advise nonprofit leaders
73% reported that their participation in efforts to address community needs increased or substantially increased
73% reported that their ability to serve as a nonprofit board member, mentor, advisor, or volunteer increased or substantially increased
Grant Partners and Members gave an average Net Promoter Score of 9 out of 10
USE YOUR POWER FOR GOOD!
As stated above, “culture starts at the top.” If Silicon Valley genuinely wants to dismantle the systems of inequality in our country, we have to start with our executives and senior business leaders
Today, Full Circle Fund is announcing 3 accelerator cohorts focused on supporting nonprofits addressing Systemic Inequality in a Post-COVID World. The program has two goals:
Leadership Development - we train on power and privilege, equity, and how to effectively leverage your skills for social good by understanding both your strengths and blind spots
Social Impact - execs practice those skills in partnership with 3 nonprofits over a 6-month commitment
We’ve seen the impact this program can have on executives and nonprofits alike. Let’s keep working to understand our power and privilege and the changes we can make in our daily lives to address systemic inequality. Let’s be champions for this work and convince our executive colleagues to do the same.
If you think you or your company’s leaders might be interested in participating, please email me (Dan AT fullcirclefund.org) or click here.