New Venture Fund

Executive Summary of our Report: Using Philanthropy to Shape a More Just, Equitable and Sustainable Future

Published December 2019

An Overview of

The New Venture Fund

New Venture Fund (NVF) was established in 2006 as a 501(c)(3) public charity to support innovative social entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations seeking to address society’s most pressing needs. Soon after, NVF established a new model for comprehensive fiscal sponsorship, one that has helped reshape the fiscal sponsorship sector. Focused on making more impact, NVF gives funders and social change leaders the capacity to move toward desired outcomes faster, in an efficient, cost-effective and time-saving way.

NVF partners with philanthropists, change-makers and disruptors to build a fair, healthy and sustainable world for all people. We do this by supporting meaningful projects, providing a venue for risk-taking and bold action, and making sure our projects have what they need to succeed.

We host projects that tackle the structural causes of inequality and environmental degradation, and we use every resource we have from financial to human capital to accelerate their work. We do all of this in an organizational environment where all employees can thrive.

At NVF we are steadfast in our support of racial and gender equity. Our goal is to foster robust cultures of safety, respect, fairness and accountability, while helping our projects adopt an ethos of continuous improvement that is reflected in their daily work. Our charge: Projects that used to take more than a year to get off the ground would instead take weeks. We took the challenge seriously and built an organization that brings resources and expertise to social entrepreneurs and nonprofits quickly, harnessing all we know to move from talking about change efforts we want to see to seeing changes happening on the ground. Instead of leaders struggling to learn accounting systems, HR and funding databases, they got to focus on what they are best at: standing up visionary efforts, activating support and building momentum.

NVF’s expertise starts with an independent board of directors that has extensive experience in philanthropic and nonprofit management. From top to bottom, we are interested in how we can have more impact and push ourselves to innovate on this every day.

Our Backers

From 2013-2018, we partnered with more than 8,000 donors. The vast majority of our funding comes from foundations, more than half of which are among the 50 largest grantmaking foundations in the United States. Individuals and families follow, then corporations. A small percentage of funding comes from community groups, associations and nonprofit organizations. The vast majority of our donors are public, while a few choose to remain anonymous, often to keep the focus on the work being done. In this time period, we have made 4,919 subgrants. Graphic 1 presents a breakdown of New Venture Fund’s sources over the past five years. Graphic 2 demonstrates our funding growth since 2006.

Graphic 1 Funding sources for the New Venture Fund from 2013-2018, rounded to nearest percentage

Graphic 2 Funding growth since 2016

Our Model

We exist to power social start-ups to start strong.

NVF supports social sector innovations that lead to better outcomes.

Funders care about solving social problems and are looking for ways to make significant progress. They want to try new things. They increasingly recognize that traditional grantmaking processes are often too slow to keep up with the times and may create distance between them and the projects they support, and even perpetuate past inequities. In this context, many funders now favor — and seek out — more direct partnerships with other funders, social entrepreneurs and nonprofits leading like-minded public interest projects on the ground.

That is where NVF comes in. We help execute a range of public interest projects on issues such as conservation, global health, public policy, international development, education, disaster recovery and the arts. In partnership with funders and in support of social change initiatives, we provide a flexible backbone of support services, guidance and extra hands to move collaborative efforts forward efficiently and effectively.

Projects highlighted in our full report

Portfolio of

Projects & Regions

We are working in five top issue areas across nine regions of the world, including 48 states and the District of Columbia in the U.S.:

In addition, we welcome projects that align with our values to help make the world more just, sustainable and equitable.

Graphic 4 shows NVF’s allocation of funds across these issue areas and other projects, while Table 1 shows NVF’s distribution of funds across regions globally.

Graphic 4 Allocation of funds to issue areas and projects from 2013-2018

Table 1 Allocation of funds across regions from 2013-2018

The Future of

New Venture Fund

A central tenet guides our values: Get resources into the hands of social entrepreneurs and nonprofits who are solving the world’s most complex problems as our best bet to create a more just and equitable society. We remain committed to this vision. Now more than ever, we have a moral responsibility — and the resources — to support members of global communities who will lead us into the future.

The 150 projects underway serve as a lab that is generating tremendous learning. NVF is exploring how we can share learnings not only among the projects, but among their networks to make the fields we work in stronger.

Change doesn’t happen only outside of NVF. We have learned valuable lessons in the past five years ranging from the need for digital security to how to cultivate harassment-free workplaces. What we learn, we spread through our growing network of projects and donor organizations. We have an active diversity, equity and inclusion initiative underway that will affect how we do our work and whom we work with.

We continue what we started: a well-run, constantly evolving and improving organization, offering best-in-class project support where leaders and donors can go from start-up to stand-up because we have no time to waste.