What is impact return? Venture Philanthropy as a Business Model Approach

Several weeks ago I participated in a series of panels and interviews at the SxSW Grit Daily Media House, most notably during our SafeMoon Saturday event. Since the event, I see a growing and deeper conversation about the uses of blockchain and crypto technology to make an impact.

Several times when I spoke about our vision and business model focus on venture philanthropy, the concept of “philanthropy with an ROI” and “return on impact” came up. I talked about it there, but I’d also like to expand on it for the broader Grit Daily audience now.

What is the link between Blockchain and Impact?

In the same way that blockchain democratizes the exchange of value for anyone in any region, it also creates a platform for innovation that is available and transparent to all. With blockchain and crypto, we have the perfect foundation for a Defi (decentralized finance) ecosystem that makes it possible to store and exchange value from something as small as a smartphone. This creates a much broader and more level playing field for innovation to occur in the form of green energy, clean water and the necessary resources for regions that are not ideally served by traditional models.

But it gets even better when you consider the things that Blockchain does that are most instrumental to social impact: development efficiency removes friction points for organizations. Collaboration is easier. Value exchanges are less affected by exchange rates and the traditional logistics of exchanging money.

The development of all kinds of products, but especially products that address basic living and health needs, can now be produced and deployed more quickly, creating cost savings that we can pass on to users rather than profit. This is where the magic lies: The Blockchain eliminates friction, of all kinds. And by creating Impact in a “for-profit” model that produces ROI, your business is a self-perpetuating mechanism that not only “does good” but is self-sustaining and has the ability to grow while spreading the impact far and wide. .

It is a matter of focus.

Think of Impact as your operational North Star. What impact will the result have on people’s lives? Were you able to raise the standard of living even a little? This is how every venture philanthropy business should measure success.

Human-based development helps

Human-based innovations support the highest possible returns at Impact. When a large number of humans align on a singular purpose, they bring knowledge, ideas, and resources to the table that can accelerate your goals even faster.

This does not mean that you make decisions by committee vote. It means you listen to your community. Use them as a perpetual test bed. Having a community that spans the globe and is very diverse will fuel your success even faster. You don’t necessarily need to conduct focus groups or extensive market research. You can “Dox” yourself in discussions of technology to understand what various sectors in a diverse community will prefer. This will boost your impact much better and faster than any traditional plan. It will also help you advance the power of community by turning “hype” into “trust” while listening to and addressing the biggest needs and best ideas they bring to the table.

In our own company, this allows participants to sit down virtually (or sometimes literally) with the CEO and Founder to talk about their biggest needs that technology could allow them (and us) to solve more quickly.

Crypto technology solves several core problems

Mark Cuban asked during his SxSW presentation, “what is the problem that (Crypto) can really solve?”

Quite! We have just described how Blockchain allows you to see who is using data, what data, and when. You can obtain data stores yourself. A smartphone can contain the stored value of wealth, money and opportunity in a way that allows you to transact globally. For some countries, it is even their only access to banking. I would say that the problems it solves are huge, and this also makes its potential for social impact tremendous. (Interestingly, and in contrast to this, Kevin O’Leary recently announced that he has invested 20% of his net worth in Crypto. Clearly, he “gets it”).

As Crypto makes the power of community an even greater benefit to Impact organizations, Crypto Culture is also becoming more open and more accessible to Crypto Curious. It started as a niche. Now it is becoming mainstream.

A word on competition and risk

In our own company, we do not compare ourselves with others. We are playing an infinite game. Compare what is “now” with what is possible 10 years from now. That is our competition. That is also your competition: the comparison with yourself today with your future self in 10 years.

Finally, a word about the element of risk. In my opinion, and especially when looking for a Defi ecosystem and results to improve lives, you have to take the risk of experiencing some errors and deviations. At each stage, look at the possible outcomes, determine the outcome you’re looking for, determine the next milestone, then quickly pivot and adapt. Don’t get hung up on the plan. The only way to get through a storm is to “walk through” it, so be prepared to pivot and adapt to the situation at hand. Much will change every day. The plan allows you to survive first contact, but it’s being able to spin and evolve quickly that gets you to the metric or milestone you’re after. Then rinse and repeat.

If your effort improves even one life, it will have been a success. But imagine the possibility of improving the future of millions or even billions of lives. The return of the impact, through corporate philanthropy, will be a fundamental key.

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