When I launched Yes! Ventures in 1999, the promise of social change shined before me like a yellow brick road. My clients were doing good work that addressed important issues. Getting that work funded was as simple as weaving a well-organized narrative with compelling statistics and a moving client story or two. And the money flowed. Buildings were raised. People were served and agencies grew.
But it was never enough. No matter how many grants my clients received, there was a relentless thirst for more and more revenue that was never quenched. Inspiring mission statements devolved into, “keeping the doors open.” And no matter how large my clients grew, the needs of the world grew larger and faster.
My clients were working hard, but they weren’t creating systemic solutions. They were focused on serving, but they weren’t giving equal time and thought to the sustainability of their business model. And all too often, the emerging spotlight of evaluation pointed out that their outcomes weren’t always measurable, cost-effective or even very impressive. Good intentions were unrealizable when some funders rewarded safe bets, penalized innovation and weren’t interested in paying for infrastructure and necessary overhead.
Fast-forward to today and why I’ve chosen to expand Yes! Ventures by partnering with Adam Pattantyus to deliver business models for social change supported by cloud based collaboration platforms. The nonprofit sector has to up its game despite traditional funding systems which often keep it hamstrung. It can no longer make inadequate investments in technology and expect to keep up. Nor can it indulge in nonprofit isolationism because the world’s most intractable problems require the earnest collaboration of all sectors. Impactful social change needs the best minds, hearts and souls at the table, be they from business, government or civil society. Ultimately, significant change will come from all of them working together.
At Yes! Ventures, we believe that the solution is to up-level the revenue playing field for social change efforts. We can do this by applying proven e-commerce business models to generate income flows that create effective, equivalent power to the business and government sectors. Just imagine the collective economic power that can be harnessed when passionate people, simply by conducting their day-to-day lives, have a vehicle which allows them to engage in and fund effective change with every transaction they make. When this happens, transformational social change at the global scale becomes possible. And we, the people, will be unstoppable.