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Revenue generation as a power-building strategy
October 15, 2020

Independent Resource Generation Hub announces first docket in partnership with Amalgamated Foundation

The Independent Resource Generation HUB (IRG Hub) was launched in late 2019 in response to the growing innovation and experimentation by the country’s top nonprofit leaders to build new revenue streams that go beyond traditional forms of charity to support their essential work in the community. The IRG Hub is designed to explore and support critical work to shift questions of sustainability and longer term revenue generation.  Even prior to the funding crisis spurred by COVID-19 struck, community-based organizations were searching for new ways to support their work with earned revenue and market-based approaches to increase ability to make lasting social change. It is no secret that the funding ecosystem can be opaque and exclusionary, and the IRG Hub’s goal is to support these disruptive efforts as organizations build new models, document and share their learnings, and look to scale early wins. The IRG Hub will serve as a funder, convener, and knowledge builder for nonprofits who want to experiment in this way.

The IRG HUB has three central goals:

  1. Advance and codify the field of independent resource generation as key component of power building in states
  2. Align and centralize lessons learned from groups currently doing this work
  3. Grow this field by increasing resources to expand and seed projects.

Initiated by philanthropic and community power-building leaders, the IRG Hub is now housed at the Amalgamated Foundation. Guillermo Quinteros will continue to lead these efforts and has joined Amalgamated Foundation as a Senior Fellow and Director of the IRG Hub. With a long trajectory helping expand and support nonprofit approaches to power building, Guillermo, and the IRG Hub, are closely aligned with the Foundation’s vision, which has a record of supporting new, disruptive models for funding social justice work.

Amalgamated Foundation was born out of Amalgamated Bank’s legacy of providing financial services to those most often left out of banking and to those impact focused organizations who want to better align their money with their mission. Since its origin, the Foundation has supported nonprofits that were experimenting with strategies to transition to a new, just economy that puts workers and the planet's sustainability first. Whether supporting integrated capital funds that invest in Black and Brown entrepreneurs or policy efforts to close the racial wealth gap, the Foundation sees this work as core to its mission and role as a leading corporate funder. Partnering and supporting the IRG Hub is a natural extension of the Foundation’s efforts to support social justice organizations as they expand their business models and become less reliant on traditional philanthropy for all their funds.

IRG Hub + Amalgamated Foundation Grants

The IRG Hub and Amalgamated Foundation have teamed up to launch a docket of grants that will support the expansion of the sector’s capacities about new revenue generation models and distill their key lessons across the ecosystem. As general operating grants, these dollars are designed to be used in a nimble and flexible fashion. This is the IRG Hub’s first docket and Amalgamated is excited to join in partnership to support these outstanding grantees at the forefront of building a new field of work.

Overall, this docket supports work to:

  1. Distill key learnings from past and current strategies.
  2. Develop a learning agenda for funders and practitioners.
  3. Engage state based independent power-building organizations who are exploring generating new sources of revenue, including as a result of the economic crisis created by the COVID 19 pandemic.

Grantees include:

Boston Impact Initiative: The Boston Impact Initiative (BII) invests in enterprises throughout Eastern Massachusetts that address the growing wealth gap and today’s ecological challenges. Over the last seven years, Boston Impact Initiative has learned how to deploy integrated capital (equity, debt and grants) to support the creation of resilient local economies. The IRG Hub's field assessment has identified the integrated capital and the financial mechanisms that are essential elements for the growth of power building revenue generation efforts. Earlier in 2020, BII launched a Fund-Building Cohort program to share their learning with activists, community foundations and other place-based organizations around the country with a commitment to economic justice. Support to BII will be used as seed capital for local funds that start through the Cohort program to provide early, first-in capacity as they seek to raise capital that will support the development of local alternative economies by supporting Black and Brown owned enterprises in their communities.

Common Future: Common Future imagines a future where people, no matter their race or ethnicity have power, choice, and ownership over the economy. As intermediary, Common Future provides a platform for leaders to organize capital and imprint mainstream influence over the narrative around the economy and the racial wealth divide. As a collaborator and trusted advisor to many foundations, businesses, and entrepreneurs, Common Future has moved more than $250M to a network of community based leaders who are developing new models in support of a just, sustainable economy. This grant will help Common Future document their learnings in the use and role of philanthropic grants for this work and to share them across the network for more visibility by community leaders.

New Left Accelerator: The New Left Accelerator (NLA) serves as an “accelerator” to groups looking to grow in sophistication, breadth, and depth of their work through high level technical assistance that consists of legal, compliance, and organizational structure development. The New Left Accelerator will partner with the IRG Hub to help develop a learning agenda to collectively document best practices/models and core capacities that help hybrid organizations achieve financial independence and build power. NLA and the IRG Hub will also be exploring the development of a NLA’s worker organizing cohort for 2021.

New Media Ventures: New Media Ventures (NMV) supports innovation and technology start-ups in the social change sector. NMV seeks to change where capital is invested, so that they can shift the structures of power to benefit more people. As a response to the current crisis, NMV expanded their 2020 Open Call as social distancing makes digital innovation even more crucial now resulting in getting over 1400 applications. NMV will be selecting and investing in some of these projects and it will also more acutely engage in understanding the connection between revenue generation and the work of organizing and state power building groups. The IRG HUB and NMV will work together to more deeply analyze groups applying for startup funds, examine links and connections between groups trying to build political power, and work to support these groups through identifying new mechanisms of funding.

One Fair Wage: One Fair Wage (OFW) is a national organization working to raise wages and working conditions for service workers nationwide. In response to the economic crisis created by the COVID 19 pandemic, OFW will be developing a case study that documents their legal and business model research and learnings for the launching of a statewide unemployed food service workers’ catering and delivery cooperative in California.

Progressive Multiplier Fund: The Progressive Multiplier Fund provides progressive nonprofits with paths to quickly build their mass market revenue generation capacity and ensure that exponential investment is available to meet the sector’s growing need. PMF will be expanding its Center for Excellence, a unique database that tracks and evaluates independent revenue experiments and projects, shares learning and best practices, and provides tools to both funders and practitioners interested in this kind of work.

The Partnership Fund: The Partnership Fund is a grantmaking collaborative made up of leading local, state, and national funders that work toward greater and sustained philanthropic investment in multi-racial, multi-issue, cohorts of state-level organizations and leaders. The grant will also support the development of organizing and civic engagement capacity of the Black food co-op network and the development of their political agenda. We envision this pilot project to have the potential to expand the political role of the cooperative movement, an existing body of independent resource generation.

The Workers Lab: The Workers Lab’s purpose is to give new ideas about increasing worker power a chance to succeed and flourish. TWL invests in and promotes the experimentation and learnings of public, private, and nonprofit leaders who are testing new ideas to improve the lives of workers across a spectrum of worker power. To further this goal, TWL is launching the Learning Lab, an open-source portal that houses the learning accumulated from their work and to serve as a scouting mechanism to identify promising innovators and ideas.