Nonprofit Chronicles

Journalism about nonprofit organizations and their impact

Village Enterprise is a small NGO. Its annual budget? About $3.5m. Number of employees? Fewer than 150, with all but seven based in East Africa. Yet Village Enterprise is about to test a big idea that has the potential to insure that money spent to fight global poverty has real impact. It’s known, inelegantly, as …

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You could call Jonathan C. Lewis a late bloomer. Not until he retired from business in his mid-50s did he rediscover his 1960s activist soul and become a full-time “social entrepreneur.” Lewis founded a nonprofit impact investing firm now called MCE Social Capital that makes loans to poor people in the developing work. He created Opportunity Collaboration, …

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A few things you might not know about Detroit: So many people are moving into the downtown and midtown areas that worries have arisen about displacing the poor. When the Detroit Pistons and the Detroit Red Wings move into the new $700m Little Caesars sports complex next fall, Detroit will be the only city in …

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The Rockefeller Brothers Fund has left its mark on America.  Founded in 1940 by five sons of John D. Rockefeller Jr.–John 3rd, Nelson, Laurance, Winthrop, and David–it has been a major supporter of New York’s Riverside Church (where the family worshipped), the Museum of Modern Art (which their mother co-founded), Colonial Williamsburg (where JDR 3rd and Winthrop chaired …

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To alleviate poverty in the global south, the New York-based Acumen Fund has for the last 15 years invested in businesses that serve the bottom of the pyramid, like solar-light manufacturer d.light and Burn, which makes and sells cookstoves in East Africa. Now, unexpectedly, Acumen is coming home. Acumen has just launched a fund to …

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“Inequality is the fight of the moment for philanthropy,” writes Philip Henderson, the president of the Surdna Foundation, in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. I’m not sure why foundations want to fight inequality. I’d prefer that they fight poverty, or work on behalf of social mobility or social justice or economic opportunity, but that’s a conversation for another day. …

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In the world of philanthropy, the divestment movement is known as Divest-Invest. “Divest” has gotten most of the attention. “Invest” will make more of a difference. Divesting ownership of fossil fuel companies won’t have much direct effect on the fossil fuel industry, as I’ve written, in part because most of the world’s reserves are held by state-owned …

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