One-on-one with Kim Tanner
Kim Tanner is the Senior Program Officer for The Jenesis Group, a family foundation based in Texas. The Jenesis Group joined the New Profit investor community in 2008. We sat down with Kim in December 2009 to talk about her experiences as Program Officer for a family foundation partnering with New Profit.
What attracted The Jenesis Group to New Profit initially and what are the most important reasons behind your decision to partner with New Profit?
The initial motivation behind our decision to partner with New Profit was our desire to find ways to increase our impact. As a family foundation with a small staff, we believed we could partner with others to leverage resources. We recognized early on that intermediaries like New Profit could play an important role in our strategy. The talent and expertise, in conjunction with the unique business model New Profit brings to the table, provided Jenesis an efficient and effective solution to increasing our impact without the need build a large staff.
Another component that is very appealing to Jenesis is that, because the New Profit Board of Directors covers the operating overhead and expenses of the organization, our dollars flow straight through to the end customers (social entrepreneurs).
What do you believe are the advantages of supporting social change organizations through New Profit, as opposed to giving to social change organizations directly?
I donít consider it an either/or decision for Jenesis. I look at New Profit to be an extension of The Jenesis Group, as another conduit to get philanthropic dollars out to the front lines where it can be effectively utilized to impact the lives of youth and young adults across this country.
I view New Profit's value-add through two different lenses. First, they provide an efficient way to deploy valuable resources to more leading social entrepreneurs than would have been possible with our limited capacity. Secondly, New Profit provides deal flow for Jenesis, vetting and selecting organizations through a rigorous process allowing Jenesis to identify organizations from their portfolio where we might provide additional value through direct investments of time and money.
As the Program Officer for a family foundation, what do you value most about The Jenesis Group/New Profit partnership?
There are many things I value about our partnership, but the one that initially comes to top of mind is the relationships and friendships Iíve developed with the New Profit team members. The team is very accessible to me as a peer and they go way beyond the traditional funder/grantee relationship. I can call a New Profit partner and run questions or issues by them about an organization we're working with, whether or not it's a New Profit portfolio organization. I don't have a large internal team and my experience has been that sharing information and knowledge is not standard practice within the industry. At times, many of us tend to work in silos.
A key component of our partnership for me is the New Profit team's transparent dissemination of knowledge. New Profit has a wealth of knowledge, experience, best practices, and learning around investment selection and portfolio management from doing this work for more than 10 years. I was recently working on board development with an organization in our portfolio. I called up a New Profit partner and they immediately shared best practices, workpapers, information about organizations that had similar structures, and volunteered to meet with me and the social entrepreneur to further discuss. I was able to take that information and go back to the social entrepreneur to begin an effective board development process in a fraction of the time I would have otherwise. New Profit has greatly increased my knowledge and impact as a program officer and saved me countless hours of work.
What role do you see New Profit playing in philanthropy today?
I see two roles. First, New Profit has begun to gain traction around influencing the way philanthropy can be doneófrom the way they invest, perform due diligence, investment selection, organization needs assessment, allocation and deployment of resources, and portfolio management. I believe that New Profit is influencing the way other funders do this work. I also think New Profit is bringing a new option to the table for both individual philanthropists as well as family foundations that want to give strategically and effectively.
Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their mind wake in the day to find that all was vanity; but the dreamers of the day...act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible.