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Corporate Impact Investing Tips from Alternative Finance Leaders

Impact Finance Center, Net Impact, and TechSoup piloted the first of its kind corporate financial innovation and impact investing course at TechSoup's office in San Francisco January 29 and 30. Following the course, a six-member panel discussed how investing in sustainability and civic spaces can align with companies' business objectives.

See that discussion here:

The panel members were

Course Studies

The two-day course presented case studies of successful impact investing strategies deployed by a diverse range of corporations. Participants learned about the following cases:

  • Patagonia Tin Shed Ventures Internal Fund
  • Clif Bar White Road Investments External Fund
  • Closed Loop Fund and Closed Loop Ventures Commingled Funds
  • Starbucks' use of a green bond to upgrade its supply chain
  • TechSoup's Direct Public Offering, which has raised $8.2 million of its $11.5 million goal in the first 15 months of its three-year campaign through a model that invites investors to give their support in a diversity of ways

The course attracted participants from corporate foundations, corporate social responsibility programs, students, and independent impact investors. It featured a learning by doing approach.

Hear from the Participants

"This course was incredible," said participant Jessica Hansen, then of Twilio, now of Alliance for Smiles. "Twenty years ago, I was working with the UN in refugee camps,10 years ago I launched a social enterprise in Kenya, 8 years ago I started a six-year stint with Kiva. The last few years I have been helping tech companies figure out how to use their people, their products, and their money to do great good and achieve impact in the world. Whether it was learning from my instructors or asking questions from the panelists, and hearing amazing perspectives, this course was really helpful, and I really recommend it."

Participant Sam Martinez of Atlanta is chief of staff at Carbon, a firm that takes proven profitable solutions in women's empowerment, education, and resource efficiency and rapidly scales them around the world. "I'm learning about fundraising from an awesome team and board, including the grandson of Nelson Mandela and the former CEO of the Grammys," he said. "But I didn't learn half of what I've learned in this course the last few days. Net Impact is the pipeline to the next talented impact professions. TechSoup is the pipeline to nonprofits. Getting into these is very important. It will be the bridge to the people writing checks around impact."

Democratizing Investment in Civil Society

Education for corporations and nonprofits about the role impact investing can play in social mission fulfillment is an important goal for TechSoup's second year of its Growth Capital Campaign. TechSoup democratized investing by setting the entry investment at just $50.

"Impact Finance Center's work to educate the corporate and philanthropic sectors about financial innovation and impact investing is extremely important," said TechSoup's Ken Tsunoda. "Courses like this one unlock significant capital to support civil society in responding to global challenges like COVID-19."

Additional Resources