Top Twelve Popular Podcasts 2018, Jeff Ochs, Venn Foundation

The Venn Foundation uses Program-Related Investments in surprising new ways.

Jeanne Voigt (R), Jeff Ochs (C), and Rob Scarlett of the Venn Foundation

This week, we’re talking to Jeff Ochs of the Venn Foundation. Jeff is an experienced entrepreneur and investor. He invented and commercialized an educational party game that was licensed by Hasbro. He started a successful nonprofit, Breakthrough Twin Cities. And he was the Executive Director of an angel investing network. In each of these instances, Jeff saw the difficulty of getting the right investments to the right startups at the right time.

Jeff explains that today there are two types of capital:

  1. Charitable donations, which support causes we care about with no expectation whatsoever for financial return.
  2. For-profitinvestments, which are designed to make as much money as possible for investorson a risk-adjusted basis.

“In this current capitalist system, it is obvious why there is no investment capital available that is willing to accept ‘below-market’ financial terms,” Jeff explains. To meet this challenge, Jeff partnered with Rob Scarlett and Jeanne Voigt to launch the Venn Foundation.

Jeff says, “At the highest level, Venn Foundation has a method for using charitable donations, which today we just give away, to make investments. This allows us to create the below-market investment capital that we badly need. Charitable investments have all the same tax advantages of donations, are anchored against -100% financial returns of donations, and allow the precious charitable donation to be recycled over and over again. Venn Foundation is where charity and investing meet.”

Venn is creating a marketplace for charitable investing. They are removing the obstacles that donors face in making charitable investments directly. By opening a special donor-advised fund called a Venn Account, any individual or organization can recommend that their charitable dollars be used by Venn to make Program-Related Investments or PRIs. Venn can syndicate any PRI among any number of Venn Accounts. Financial returns from these PRIs go back to participating funds for the donors to redeploy into new PRIs or to grant out as desired.

Venn recently made a program-related investment to Binary Bridge. Binary Bridge creates software that helps humanitarians do their work effectively and efficiently. You may recall our conversation with Binary Bridge founder Lori Most.

Who should seek program-related investing? Jeff suggests that business and nonprofit leaders ask themselves, “Is that I’m doing helping advance a charitable cause as defined by the IRS? And if the answer is yes, or maybe yes, the program-related investment tool is something that could apply to you and your goals.”

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Jeff Ochs

“If that kind of capital existed, what could we do?” Jeff Ochs, Venn Foundation Click To Tweet “It’s where charity and investing meet.” Jeff Ochs, Venn Foundation Click To Tweet “Today, there is not a market for charitable investing.” Jeff Ochs, Venn Foundation Click To Tweet “If capital behaved differently, what would be possible?” Jeff Ochs, Venn Foundation Click To Tweet “Capital is the lifeblood of our economy.” Jeff Ochs, Venn Foundation Click To Tweet “If we can change the nature of capital, we can change the way our economy works.” Jeff Ochs, Venn Foundation Click To Tweet

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

About the Author
Tony Loyd is a TEDx speaker, podcast host and the author of Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs. He is a former Fortune 500 executive with extensive experience in strategic planning, talent management, and leadership development. Tony is the host of the podcast Social Entrepreneur where you can hear the stories of changemakers who are making an impact on the world.

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