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    Impact Investing Turns the Tables on Traditional Philanthropy

    Photo courtesy of San Diego Grantmakers
    The first Deal Flow event to showcase impact investment opportunities in San Diego was held in April.

    Most people assume philanthropy works like this: You give time or money, and you get the satisfaction of helping a cause or a community. But the exciting new world of impact investing is turning the tables on this age-old formula in a way that could exponentially increase the amount of capital used to support causes for good.

    Through impact investing, people can give money to a company, organization or fund that creates positive social or environmental impact and earn a profit from that investment. Both for-profit companies with social missions and not-for-profit organizations with programs that generate revenue can offer impact investment opportunities.

    “Impact investing has huge potential to play a significant role in social and environmental change,” explains Nelli Garton, a principal at LeSar Development Consultants. “It essentially adds another tool in the tool belt of change-makers and unlocks new and more sustainable dollars to attack issues from a range of angles.”

    Connecting the Dots of Impact Investing in Our Region

    SDIIN rev logoSan Diego is a bustling center for impact investing, but there hasn’t been much coordination among philanthropists, investors, and the organizations and companies seeking financing for their impact investment opportunities. That’s changing, thanks to the San Diego Impact Investors Network (SDIIN), a cross-sector collaboration committed to building a regional market for impact investing.

    “We are working to connect these dots and highlight viable investing opportunities,” says Garton, who is also Chair of SDIIN’s Executive Committee.

    Increasing “Deal Flow” for Impact Investing

    One way SDIIN aims to bridge the gaps between different impact investing players is at Deal Flow: Health & Wellness on October 19. At this event, leaders from five enterprises will give presentations to an audience of potential funders about their investment-ready products, services, projects or ideas to improve health and wellness by addressing food, caregiving, disability support or physical therapy needs and opportunities.

    “You’ll see technology for the blind, hydro-organic agriculture, and an app for care-givers,” says Megan Thomas, senior director of collaborative philanthropy at San Diego Grantmakers, an organization that provides facilitation support for SDIIN’s work.

    Deal Flow: Health & Wellness is the second of several such events that the group hopes to organize each year as part of its broader goal to attract $100 million in impact investment capital to our region by 2025. Though no deals will be negotiated at the event itself, it opens the doors for dialogue and funding after the fact.

    Cooking Up Change…and More

    Jennifer Gilmore, executive director of Kitchens for Good, will be among those presenting at Deal Flow: Health & Wellness. She’ll describe how providing loans to Kitchens for Good can earn investors a return while supporting a rapidly growing non-profit organization devoted to fighting food waste, poverty, and hunger through workforce training, healthy food production, and social enterprise.

    “We launched our culinary job training program and catering and events enterprises in 2015,” Gilmore says. “Through our catering and events, we make locally sourced meals from scratch while creating an opportunity for people who have barriers to employment. We’ve already secured several contracts to serve meals to senior centers and we’re catering and hosting 500 events a year.”

    SD Grantmakers -IMG_5382- July 2016These enterprises provide revenue—crucial for paying off loans—and create economic opportunities for students and graduates, Gilmore says. “They get hands-on experience and a paycheck, and they get to learn what it’s like to work in a vibrant, real-life kitchen.”

    At Deal Flow, Gilmore says, “we’ll be talking about our opportunities for impact investing and our expansion to North County.”

    Photo: Deal Flow: Health & Wellness event presenter Kitchens for Good aims to break the cycles of food waste, poverty and hunger through innovative programs in workforce training, healthy food production, and social enterprise.

    Other Deal Flow: Health & Wellness presenters include:

    • Aira: By developing technology that connects the blind with a network of certified agents via wearable smart glasses and an augmented reality dashboard, Aira helps users accomplish a wide range of daily activities.
    • Archi’s Acres: As a result of healthy food delivery; education and employment support for veterans; and sustainable hydro-organic farming practices, Archi’s Acres benefits the local economy, community, and environment.
    • Spiral Therapy: Spiral Therapy utilizes 3D imaging and a digitized, scalable model that crowd-sources physical therapy recommendations to make treatment more accessible, consistent, and convenient, and reduce dependence on opioids while cutting down healthcare costs.
    • Village Core: By means of its Care to Caregiver program, VillageCore empowers unpaid family caregivers through resources, education, journey guides, and peer-to-peer encouragement. VillageCore supports caregivers’ mental health and wellbeing, reducing healthcare costs for them and the community.

    Who Should Attend Deal Flow: Health & Wellness?

    “Anyone in San Diego County interested in learning more about impact investing here is encouraged to attend, including individual philanthropists and investors, as well as grantmaking, for-profit business, nonprofit, and social enterprise professionals,” Thomas says.

    San Diego Grantmakers particularly encourages those who engage in philanthropy to attend and experience real-life examples of how impact investing can be an extension of the work they’re already doing to strengthen communities.

    Event Details

    Deal Flow: Health & Wellness
    Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016, 3:30PM-5:30PM
    Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine (2880 Torrey Pines Scenic Dr., La Jolla, CA 92037)
    $55 San Diego Grantmakers members / $75 Non-members

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      Wherever you live in San Diego County, a local or regional community foundation serves you. To get more information, you may contact the organizations profiled in this article or listed below. You may also search online for the name of your community and “foundation” and any interests or affiliations you may have.