Shoal of fish.

What we mean by “collective impact”

August 16, 2018
Anna Fink

This spring, we had the opportunity to host friends and colleagues to mark the launch of the Amalgamated Foundation. I was grateful for the chance to publicly thank the team at Amalgamated Bank that has been incredibly supportive of the Amalgamated Foundation. It was thrilling to look around the room and see so many trusted friends, partners and allies in philanthropy and on the front lines organizing for social change.

We intentionally hosted the event at Amali, not only for the fantastic food and drink, but because Amali is one of 500 restaurants that are part of RAISE, the Restaurant Opportunity Centers’ association of “high road” restaurants. As owner of Amali, Mr. Mallios has been a leading champion of One Fair Wage, ROC’s program membership to which requires restaurant owners to pay the full minimum wage to tipped workers with tips added on top of the standard minimum wage. He also helped develop a model sexual harassment policy for the restaurant industry together with ROC and Futures Without Violence.

Although the night was focused on the Amalgamated Foundation, I spent a portion of my remarks recalling the founding of Amalgamated Bank because of the way it inspires what we are doing with the Amalgamated Foundation. Amalgamated Bank was founded at the turn of the last century by immigrant workers—young women like my own great grandmother who sewed coats in a factory—and who joined together in the face of exploitive and abusive conditions to fight for their rights and form a union. And if that wasn’t enough, they then had the audacity to also pool their meager resources to form a bank to invest even more in their families and communities. This legacy gives us a great pride and great responsibility, almost 100 years later, as we launch the Amalgamated Foundation.

No doubt, we are facing a new moment of truth in this country right now—one that also requires bold and audacious action. We cannot afford to continue on with business as usual in the face of unfettered greed, virulent racism, gender discrimination and the undermining of our democratic institutions and practices. We have an imperative to do more and to figure out how to put the tools, expertise, commitment and privilege we enjoy to work to shepherd precious resources in ways that increase impact across the board. By providing the means for collective action, rapid response and investment in communities and economies, we will promote equity, sustainability, solidarity and resilience. That is the vision, and indeed the commitment, of the Amalgamated Foundation.

And we’re starting to build this vision into reality in three key ways:

  • We’ve created Advance Change Funds, our version of a Donor Advised Fund (DAF). It is nimble, easy to use and dedicated to social change. We are also managing Amalgamated Bank’s philanthropic resources in a streamlined and strategic way, and have our sights set on continuing to innovate to help donors realize their passion for and commitment to social change. Most importantly, we’re creating more efficient ways to move resources to the activists on the frontlines of today’s vital movements and struggles. Movement leaders—many of whom attended our launch event and are already clients of Amalgamated bank, and all of whom are passionate change-makers—can count on the Amalgamated Foundation to be a partner to them as they fight the good fight.
  • We’ve kicked off our signature 10% Giving Pledge to double the industry average payout and ensure that our DAF program effectively delivers resources to the field. It is already gaining attention and was highlighted in the Chronicle of Philanthropy earlier this year. A pledge of this sort is singularly unique in the Donor Advised Account space.
  • Finally, we are deeply committed to collective impact. While collective impact as a concept is by no means a new concept, we are amplifying the renewed energy that has in recent months and years emerged around the power and strategic value of working in a more coordinated way.  We intend for this commitment to be a cornerstone of our work: through partnerships in the field and collaborative support of funds and impact investing. Through our connection to Amalgamated Bank, we have the potential to leverage resources, tools, technology and relationships with nonprofits, unions, social enterprises and political entities. And we will deepen our relationships with philanthropic institutions, individual donors and donor networks, and partner with public charities in strategic and innovative ways.

As we endeavor to achieve our mission of revolutionizing giving, we have a lot to be thankful for. We are grateful to even be in a position to embark on this journey. The critical and honest input and feedback we’ve received from friends, allies, clients and members of our community has been indispensable. Your generosity, brilliance and encouragement about the vision we’re building has been nothing short of stunning. If you’re reading this, I implore you to please keep it coming: tell us what else we could and should be doing, and how we can better work together. What’s more, if you’re excited and inspired by our mission and values, please spread the word. I’m excited about the forward progress we will achieve together.