RSF Social Finance is for people who want to revolutionize their relationship with money and who seek new ways to engage with capital.

Photo of Veritable Vegetable. By Anne Hamersky

With our clients and partners, we’re building the relationships needed to heal the economy. We connect social entrepreneurs to the funds and resources they need, provide opportunities for individuals to find joy in investing and giving, and bring our community together in ways that help all participants develop more meaningful relationships with money.

Dear Clients and Friends,

As I reflect back on 2016, what jumps out more than anything else is the profound depth of trust we feel from our clients. Even in the midst of an election year, I heard over and over again how appreciative our growing community was that we were there for them and partnering with them in support of social enterprises that really are changing the world.

Personally, my time at Standing Rock last November reconfirmed my commitment to protecting the environment and those who stand with and for the earth. The nature of a shared vision that recognizes the sacred has continued to move me and remind me that with each transaction, we have an opportunity to deepen our relationships. The work you are doing as clients and allies inspires me and us daily.

In fact, it was that inspiration that gave us the confidence to move the integrated capital approach to the center of all of our work—work that surfaced in the development of our Collaboratives (Biodynamics, Local Food, Fair Trade, Soil Health, and Women’s Capital). The nature of these funds expresses how we are shifting our role as a leader in the field of social finance. The Collaboratives are philanthropic funds. These gift assets allow us to support social enterprises in a way that has not been possible with our investor-supported funds alone. With the Collaboratives, we are able to lend, guarantee loans, make direct investments, give grants, and provide other forms of capital in a way that is even more catalytic.

RSF is uniquely equipped to provide funding across the capital spectrum, and the expertise social enterprises need to thrive. In addition, we provide transformative learning experiences to our clients, so they may explore their relationship with money. This combination is our leading edge in a field that we have helped define by being an early model of impact investing, a term that is now mainstream.

To support the shift in how we approach finance, we launched our first-ever growth capital initiative, Money to Transform, in late 2016. This $10 million fundraising initiative is designed to build our capacity to serve social entrepreneurs, investors, and donors and to advance the field of social finance.

One leading indicator that we are on the right path is the continued growth of Shared Gifting. Because it revolutionizes the philanthropic power dynamic by bringing circles of peers together to hear each other’s proposals and then collaboratively determining grant allocations, resources beyond money are offered and shared. Thus, the value of the process is deeply social and transformative. Rarely a day goes by now without us receiving calls from foundations and other charitable groups that want to learn the process from us.

To complement the shift in our approach, we also took on a rebranding project last year. It was time to refresh our visual identity, and more importantly, we needed to update our messaging to reflect our current work and better tell our story. Part of this exercise led us to pause our social impact assessment. After many years of tracking our impact as financial intermediary, it was time to review and reevaluate our tools and approach. We look forward to reporting on our impact next year.

I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to lead RSF Social Finance. We have grown, as you will see from this annual report, but we are not satisfied to just grow. What is more important to us, and hopefully to you, is that finance can truly support the highest aspirations of the human spirit.

All my best,

Don Shaffer, President & CEO

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Social Entrepreneurs

Marin Sun Farms

Petaluma, CA

In December 2015, Mindful Meats received a line of credit to support working capital needs. Following their recent merger with Marin Sun Farms, the new company received an additional line of credit to expand the distribution channels for their packaged meat and egg products into grocery stores and provide them with more cash-on-hand to purchase livestock.

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David Evans & Claire Herminjard, Co-Executive Officers

Over the last one hundred years the majority of food production, processing and distribution has consolidated into a handful of large corporations. So began the fast decline of our country’s small farms and farmers.

Claire started Mindful Meats to connect local beef farmers who take great care of their land and animals to local markets and to build a brand that would represent those farmers’ values.

Simultaneously, David founded Marin Sun Farms in 1999 to be a gateway to market for many small farms raising livestock under the stringent protocol, which includes refraining from using antibiotics or hormones, humane treatment, and whole animal butchery.

Both of our organizations knew that the process of building resiliency in our local food system starts with diversifying supply back into the hands of many small farms. With that, we joined forces in January 2017, believing we could further this mission at a greater scale as one company.

Together, united as Marin Sun Farms (MSF), we manage our meat production from pasture to production to dining room plate. To ensure the long term viability of local livestock, we operate the last remaining USDA inspected abattoir in the San Francisco Bay Area (purchased by MSF in 2014), assuring that all the meat we process is in a facility that is Certified Organic and Animal Welfare Approved. We employ and empower local residents in Petaluma, Point Reyes Station, and Oakland with good jobs, ranging from ranch hands, livestock handlers, butchers, packers, drivers, salespeople, administrators, and dreamers.

Now with a more robust product portfolio as a result of the merger, the Marin Sun Farms team is exploring growth into grocery retail and institutional, with a focus on healthcare and education markets. With new opportunities, come new costs and the need to invest in more product to reach these markets.

Through Mindful Meats, Claire experienced being an RSF borrower. She knew that continuing the financial relationship would also benefit Marin Sun Farms, as it was important for the team to work with a lender that focused on catalyzing positive social and environmental impact. RSF and Marin Sun Farms share deep values alignment.

We are grateful for this rare and valuable relationship.

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Social Entrepreneurs

Troupe Therapy

Fort Collins, CO

In 2016, Troupe Therapy received a $1,000 grant from the RSF Seed Fund. It is a small volunteer group that co-creates community with teenage youth who struggle with a variety of issues through exploratory movement and dance.

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Rita Corey, Founder

I established Troupe Therapy to serve youths who are dealing with issues such as drugs, homelessness, and domestic abuse in the greater Denver area. Both my faculty and I can relate to the experiences of these teenagers, as we faced similar struggles during our adolescence. I’ve been dancing professionally for many years and have used my knowledge in traditional dance and cognitive behavior therapy to craft offerings that blend therapeutic self-expression with subjects that kids want to learn. I believe that when you’re dancing, you have this mind-body awareness that sparks.

With Seed Fund support, we were able to offer three fall classes: urban art, film, and breakdancing. Urban art, a class where students learn how to create colorful murals, is our most popular with twenty-eight students enrolled. Students were able to receive school credit for participating in them. New courses are always in consideration although we determine the final offerings based on the interest of the kids in the program. This summer, we are working on developing a parkour class, which will be taught by two sixteen-year-old students. In addition to demonstrating how it’s done, they will be teaching how to capture the popular street gymnastic on video and teaching techniques for editing the footage.

Our training has recently moved to Fort Collins from Lafayette, a suburb of Boulder. However, many of our teachers travel from Denver, and we remain committed to serving the youth in the greater Denver area. We are currently in the process of fundraising to be able to offer our programs over the summer and hire a licensed therapist who can help develop the curriculum. If we are unable to meet our funding goals, we will rely on volunteers to ensure this very important work continues.

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Investors & Donors

Heather Blackie

Heather Blackie has a Donor Advised Fund at RSF. In 2016, she gave to three organizations that find and implement solutions to problems that concern her the most: climate change, community agriculture, land grabbing, and soil health.

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There are three organizations that I’d like to highlight for their stellar work in 2016: The Carbon Cycle Institute (CCI), Fibershed, and the Oakland Institute. CCI researches carbon sequestration solutions in rangeland and forest soils that help in the fight against climate change. Fibershed is on a mission to develop a regenerative, regional fiber system that builds healthy soil and promotes ecologically sustainable textile production. Last, but certainly not least, is the Oakland Institute, a nonprofit that uses the power of knowledge to support mostly indigenous peoples in protecting ancestral lands threatened by large multinational corporations.

From an outsider’s viewpoint, these organizations appear to have different foci. CCI works primarily with land at the local level, whereas the Oakland Institute supports people globally. But if you examine their impacts closer, you’ll see the efforts of these groups build on one another. Fibershed is the perfect example of where the nexus occurs. The encompassing nature of garment-making affects both ecosystems and people. In many respects, you cannot separate the two, so efforts must be carried out on all fronts.

For 18 years of my life, I worked at a small foundation. With each nonprofit that I encountered, grantee or not, I felt it was important to listen intently to the organization’s staff. I learned that many nonprofits know what’s best when it comes to program direction. I say this because, too often, we see donor interests sway the direction of the organization—sometimes at the expense of the nonprofit’s mission. That is why I gave toward operations this year—because nonprofits need to have a solid core before they can extend into new program areas.

I give this way because I trust the staff at the organizations I support—trust that we built through relationship. And the only way to do that is to engage—with a nonprofit’s workforce, target communities, or areas of interest. It pleases me to know that RSF emphasizes cultivating relationships with grantees. That’s the best approach in my opinion.

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Investors & Donors

Min Xuan Lee

Min became a new noteholder in RSF’s Social Investment Fund in early 2016. In September of that year, she led a school trip from Singapore to San Francisco to show students the wide range of social enterprises in the area. RSF’s offices were, of course, a stop on their visit.

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I first encountered RSF at the SOCAP conference in 2015. At the time, I was saving and investing my money in banks but had begun to question my approach to managing it. As someone who believes in direct impact and in simplifying complexity, I found it troubling that I couldn’t say with conviction where the bank was investing my money.

So when I first heard of RSF, I felt like it paralleled my beliefs around money. To me, if there are opportunities to be in a more direct relationship, I’m always going in that direction. The way RSF gives and lends, I feel like you are confronting the edges of money as well.

As the founder of social enterprise, Play Moolah, I can tell you that people don’t truly understand how to use the power of business for social impact. As a result, funding sources for social enterprise are scarce, especially in Asia.

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Social Entrepreneurs

RSF provides funding to social enterprises in the U.S. and Canada that are committed to creating long-term social and ecological benefit. In addition to being a values-aligned financial partner, we foster a network of borrowers and grantees within a community of like-minded individuals and organizations.

Investors & Donors

RSF works with investors and donors to connect their financial resources with social enterprises tackling today’s most pressing issues. Our clients value knowing where those resources are being put to work. With that knowledge comes an opportunity to develop a deeper connection with money.

Relationships

RSF’s theory of change is rooted in relationships.

Each financial transaction is a foundation for long-term relationships—not just between RSF and our clients but the clients with each other. It is through these relationships that individuals recognize the interconnectedness of all participants and how their intentions and actions with money impact others. As relationships develop, people listen more deeply, respond to the emergent, and collaborate in unique ways that serve people and the planet. As people change their relationship with money, they radiate this transformation through their respective communities, and from their communities to the whole system.

Shared Gifting Circles and Community Pricing Gatherings are two ways in which we foster relationships and work to make parties within transactions visible to each other.

Shared Gifting Circles

Shared Gifting Circles give participants distribution and allocation authority over grant funds. By moving control of funds from donors to organizations, we create the trust, accountability, reciprocity, and community that are often absent from traditional philanthropy models.

Community Pricing Gatherings

We hold quarterly Community Pricing Gatherings around the U.S. and online with representatives of our three stakeholder groups—investors, borrowers, and RSF staff. The meetings are an opportunity to learn about each other, discuss what rates will best meet the needs of all stakeholders, and make recommendations for setting the quarterly interest rate.

Integrated Capital Approach

Integrated capital is the coordinated use of different forms of financial capital and non-financial resources to support an enterprise that’s working to solve complex social and environmental problems.

Tools

Integrated Capital in Action: Equal Exchange

Since 1986, Equal Exchange has been a full-service provider of high quality, organic coffee, chocolate, cocoa, and other products. One-hundred percent of Equal Exchange products are fairly traded, benefiting more than 40 small farmer co-operatives in 25 countries around the world. Equal Exchange is a worker cooperative, an alternative for-profit structure based on democratic principles and dedicated to sourcing products from similarly democratic cooperatives and farmer associations.

 

In 2014, RSF provided Equal Exchange with a $2 million loan through its social enterprise lending program to refinance an existing mortgage on its Massachusetts offices. The refinancing was part of Equal Exchange’s commitment to align its capital sources with its values.

 

In 2016, RSF and Equal Exchange partnered to address one of the largest challenges within the coffee supply chain: coffee leaf rust. The most effective mechanism for recovery and resilience is replanting with rust-resistant varietals and improving soil management. Through the RSF Fair Trade Capital Collaborative*, we provided $130,000 in loans for the renovation projects to three cooperatives in Chiapas, Mexico. An additional $60,000 in technical assistance grants was offered for agronomic technicians who would provide the training and guidance needed to support more regenerative agricultural practices.

 

The funding was part of a pilot project with the Fair Trade Capital Collaborative where RSF is utilizing “trust underwriting” for the loans. This approach to underwriting begins with current or former RSF borrowers—enterprises we know and trust. They identify their strongest relationships and the biggest capital gaps within their supply chains. RSF provides a loan to those organizations with a partial guarantee from the RSF borrower. This allows for financing that prioritizes existing relationships over collateral or financial performance. (We’re very enthusiastic about this approach and look forward to offering it more broadly after the pilot phase!)

In 2016, with input and guidance from our staff, clients, and a consulting partner, we completed a long-term strategic planning exercise. The process reaffirmed RSF’s integrated capital approach as core to our strategy for delivering impact and catalyzing change. Through this approach, RSF deploys a unique mix of financial capital along the risk spectrum (debt, equity, guarantees, and grants) and non-financial capital (expertise, creativity, connections, and community) to meet the needs of social entrepreneurs.

Strong demand for RSF’s offerings is reflected in our balance sheet. In 2016, RSF increased total assets by 8% to $188 million. We made $31.5 million in new loans to social enterprises, 22% growth over last year, ending 2016 with $98.5 million in loans receivable. RSF grew investment in our Social Investment Fund (90-day) Notes by 5% to total over $110 million. In addition, a new client approached us, wanting to invest a large sum for a longer term. We created a custom 5-year, $6 million loan which met both the client’s needs and RSF’s need for longer-term debt to match the money we deploy.

Advancements in our integrated capital strategy include raising additional funds into two shared-risk loan funds, expanding RSF’s ability to take more risks. We added $600,000 in new investments into the Food Systems Transformation Fund and made six new loans. With an initial $1 million commitment, RSF launched a new shared-risk loan fund called the Regenerative Economy Fund, focused on clean energy access, sustainable materials, and waste diversion and recycling. From philanthropic funds, we deployed over $1 million from our Collaboratives, including making our first loans and grants to social enterprises from our Fair Trade and Soil Health Capital Collaboratives. In total, we ended 2016 with $121 million in investor funds and $7 million in philanthropic funds in our five Collaboratives to deploy to social enterprises.

The health of our business model is anchored by steady earned income, which totaled $6.7 million in 2016, comprising 85% of operating revenue, a consistent percentage over the past five years. RSF earned $1.2 million in fees for philanthropic services and $5.5 million in interest margin and fees on loans to social enterprises in 2016, 9% growth over last year. We have intentionally been expanding the use of philanthropic gifts to fund R&D, as well as the depth of engagement, experiences, and services we provide. For the first time in RSF’s history, we utilized $1.7 million in unrestricted operating reserves to fund an operating deficit. We increased expenses year over year by 24% to $8.5 million to fund new program and product innovation as well as organizational systems and infrastructure to pave the foundation for a successful growth phase. In late 2016, we launched the quiet phase of our five-year, $10 million gift capital campaign, Money to Transform, to fund core support and RSF’s continued innovation. We expect to increase the role of gifts from 15% to 20% or more of operating revenue on average annually over the coming years.

On a macroeconomic level, after eight years of interest rates remaining at record lows—the Federal Reserve funds target rate was 0.00% to 0.25% since the 2008 financial crisis—in December 2015, the Federal Reserve made its first 0.25% increase since the recession. In January of 2016, RSF increased its base interest rate (RSF Prime) for borrowers by 0.25% to 4.75%, it increased its investor rate to 0.50%, and RSF’s revenue share (our margin) remained at 4.25%. Since 2009, RSF has been setting its own interest rate with input from our investor and borrower community. It is a price index based on the needs of stakeholders and the conditions of the marketplace. We believe this approach is less volatile, more transparent, and recognizes the interdependence of all parties — values we see as essential in a healthy financial system. 2016 marked a turning point as the Federal Reserve increased rates in December by an additional 0.25% to a target of 0.50% to 0.75% and indicated three more rate increases in 2017. With this trend in rate increases, we will be working even more closely with our community on what rates will best serve all stakeholders.

We look forward to continuing to deepening our relationships with clients, supporting more social enterprises and advancing innovations in the field of social finance.

Warm regards,

Susie Lee, Chief Investment Officer

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CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF FINANCIAL POSITION*

2016 2015 2014
ASSETS
Cash and Cash Equivalents $15,561,821 $29,227,940 $27,970,438
Restricted Cash 216,046 287,983
Mission related investments:
     Loans receivable, net of reserves 97,237,989 78,866,946 82,324,513
     Investments, at fair value 73,883,027 64,428,496 62,966,170
Prepaid expenses & other assets 1,240,784 1,079,409 1,700,967
TOTAL ASSETS $187,923,621 $173,818,837 $175,250,071
LIABILITIES AND NET ASSETS
LIABILITIES
     Investor notes payable $112,518,335 $107,148,478 $110,706,548
     Long term loans payable 6,005,574
     Other Liabilities 226,317 398,606 319,447
TOTAL LIABILITIES 118,750,226 107,547,084 111,025,995
NET ASSETS
     Unrestricted 68,773,395 66,121,753 63,249,076
     Temporarily restricted 300,000 50,000 875,000
     Permanently restricted 100,000 100,000 100,000
TOTAL NET ASSETS 69,173,395 66,271,753 64,224,076
TOTAL LIABILITIES AND NET ASSETS $187,923,621 $173,818,837 $175,250,071

 

 

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF ACTIVITIES & CHANGES IN NET ASSETS*

2016 2015 2014
REVENUES
Earned Income 1

     Lending interest, fees, other income

$5,519,025 $4,647,667 $4,613,736

     Investment Income, net

(421,099) (1,985,148) 182,566
Gifts and Contributions

     Gifts to Donor Advised Funds

20,065,912 14,145,104 13,312,469

     Gifts to Collaboratives

53,228 3,061,632 1,828,000

     Gifts to RSF

445,370 1,562,263 1,146,826
Total Gifts and Contributions 20,564,510 18,768,998 16,287,295
TOTAL REVENUES 25,662,436 21,431,517 21,083,597
EXPENSES
Program Services

     Interest Expense on Investor Funds

617,789 536,074 434,729

     Provisions for loan losses

399,848 271,827 300,000

     Grants Made to Programs 2

13,236,076 11,402,494 9,942,668

     Other Projects and Program Expenses

898,407 207,125 26,008

     Personnel costs 3

3,470,315 2,859,937 2,823,243
Total Program Services 18,622,435 15,277,457 13,526,648
Supporting Services

     Management and General Expenses 4

4,138,359 4,106,383 3,885,084
TOTAL EXPENSES 22,760,794 19,383,840 17,411,732
CHANGES IN NET ASSETS 2,901,642 2,047,677 3,671,865
NET ASSETS AT BEGINNING OF YEAR 66,271,753 64,224,076 60,552,211
NET ASSETS AT END OF PERIOD $69,173,395 $66,271,753 $64,224,076

 

Notes

 

1) In addition to revenue shown here, RSF earns fee income from its philanthropic services. These fees do not appear in our GAAP income statement due to our corporate structure (intercompany transactions). RSF earned income from philanthropic services totaled $1.2M in 2016, $1.1M in 2015, and $992k in 2014.

 

2) Over 90% of grants made are client directed, granted out from Donor Advised Funds. The balance are RSF directed grant deployment.

 

3 & 4) Delta between 2015 to 2016 is due to new auditor recommended change in breakout of Personnel costs between program services & management and general. Total personnel expenses across the two categories are: $6.0M in 2016, $5.2M in 2015, and $4.7M in 2014.

 

*2016 financial are unaudited.

 

 

RSF is committed to supporting and developing the individual capacities of staff and a strong organizational culture. Our intention is to be of deep service to our clients and community.

Deb Nelson, Vice President of Client & Community Engagement

In January 2016, Deb Nelson joined RSF as Vice President of Client and Community Engagement. In this role, she serves as a principal proponent for RSF’s vision and guides field building activities, including the Integrated Capital Fellowship. Deb also leads the Women’s Capital Collaborative and cultivates relationships with donors, investors, borrowers, and partners.

Formerly the executive director of Social Venture Network (SVN), Deb expanded the field of social entrepreneurship by growing a network of leaders committed to leveraging the power of business for social and environmental good. In her 15 years at SVN, she supported thousands of values-driven businesspeople and entrepreneurs. Before joining SVN, Deb worked for Working Assets (now CREDO Mobile) and American Express. She earned an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon.

From Deb on her new role:

“RSF is at the leading edge of the movement to shift from an extractive economy to a regenerative one. I feel grateful to be collaborating with such an innovative, committed community of social entrepreneurs, impact investors, and financial activists.”

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Susie Lee, Chief Investment Officer

In September 2016, Susie Lee joined RSF as Chief Investment Officer. As head of capital deployment, Susie enables RSF to support the steady growth of social enterprises using an integrated capital approach—the coordinated use of debt, equity, grants, and non-financial resources to meet the needs of social entrepreneurs. She also oversees the organization’s asset management strategy and execution, and stewards new product development.

Susie has 20 years of cross-sector investment and entrepreneurial experience, anchored by over a decade in venture capital and private equity. She has invested from three commercial funds—totaling over $200 million in assets under management—and served on the boards of early- and growth-stage portfolio companies in clean energy, software, consumer packaged goods, and sustainable food. Moreover, Susie has managed more than $50 million in philanthropic funds; and she raised over $100 million in investment capital from institutions and individuals. Previously, Susie was a director at IGNIA Partners and principal of TBL Capital.

From Susie on her new role:

“RSF’s innovative approach, strong track record, and incredible depth of relationships with investors, donors, and entrepreneurs made it a very compelling organization to join. I’m enjoying partnering with creative, passionate, and entrepreneurial colleagues, co-investors, and clients in architecting new ways to financing impact.”

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Afsana Hye
Program Associate, Philanthropic Services
Alex Haber
Program Manager, Philanthropic Services
Amy Beck
Senior Associate, Client Engagement
Amy Bird
Manager, Social Enterprise Lending
Carmen Alvarez Poe
Senior Loan Processor
Carrie Monae
Senior Manager, Information Systems
Casey Johnson
Senior Associate, Social Enterprise Lending
Diane Robinson
Office Coordinator
Deb Nelson
Vice President, Client and Community Engagement
Don Shaffer
President & CEO
Enrique Perez
Marketing Manager
John Bloom
Vice President, Organizational Culture
John Meyers
Marketing Assistant
Kate Danaher
Senior Manager, Social Enterprise Lending & Integrated Capital
Katrina Steffek
Chief Operating Officer
Kelley Buhles
Senior Director, Philanthropic Services and Organizational Culture
Kevin Hull
Junior Data Analyst
Leah Johnson
Loan Processing Manager
Lisa Barry
Senior Manager, Human Resources
Lynne Hoey
Senior Credit Manager
Mark Herrera
Senior Manager, Client Engagement
Melinda Cheel
Marketing Director
Meredith Storton
Senior Associate, Social Enterprise Lending
Muy Yam
Senior Associate, Human Resources
Natalia Morozova
Senior Accountant
Neha Kapur
Senior Credit Associate
Reed Mayfield
Manager, Social Enterprise Lending
Roja Gottimukkala
Business Systems Analyst
Steven Chai
Credit Associate
Stu Fram
Senior Associate, Social Enterprise Lending
Stuart Krengel
Senior Associate, Social Enterprise Lending
Susie Lee
Chief Investment Officer
Tammy Childers
Senior Portfolio Manager
Tim Green
Director, Legal & Compliance
Anthony Chang
Don Shaffer
President & CEO
Jocelyn Romero Demirbag
Mark Censits
Mark Finser
Chair of the Board
Neil Blomquist
Rachael Flug
Ron Alston
Scott Williams
Siegfried Finser

While we have not in any way changed the essence of who we are at our core, we did recraft our purpose statement in September of 2016. The change in language serves two purposes. It makes clearer our aspiration as an organization, and further, the new statements make it easier to understand who we are and what we do.


Vision

We envision a world in which money serves the highest intentions of the human spirit and contributes to an economy based on generosity and interconnectedness.

 

Mission

To create financial relationships that are direct, transparent, personal and focused on long-term social, economic and ecological benefit.

We achieve our mission by:

> Offering investors and donors dynamic ways to align their money with their values

> Connecting entrepreneurs with diverse forms of capital

> Empowering leaders and advancing innovations in the field of social finance

 

Values

 Cultivating Gratitude

Building Trust    

 Encouraging Radical Collaboration