I’m excited to announce that three weeks ago TurboVote was awarded one of the highest honors for a startup nonprofit, a three-year grant from the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation.
The timing was perfect because the week after the announcement was the annual DRK social entrepreneur retreat. Every year, the group hosts a retreat for their current crop of social entrepreneurs, where we get Jedi training, etc. This year was especially awesome because it was the foundation’s 10th anniversary and they brought back all their alumni. I got to meet nearly all of the 40 social entrepreneurs DRK has supported over the past decade. I’ve never met a group of more incredible, dynamic people. You could reliably drop into any conversation and become instantly smarter.
That all said, one of the nicest things about the support is that their portfolio directors talk to a dozen experts about your work over the course of about nine months, memorize your business plan, make you rewrite it, and then memorize it again. When the grant is finally awarded, the team, the leader, the plan, and the crazy idea that got it all started have all been more seriously vetted than ever before.
Our crazy idea was that we could make voting as easy Netflix, build a modern voting system that fits the way we live, and help create the democracy our country deserves – where more people vote, in more elections, with more information, than ever before. Winning the grant felt like getting a big reassuring stamp on your forehead that says, “This idea is just crazy enough to work.”
Anyway, this is all to say that the DRK Foundation is made of very good stuff. You can check out their website to learn more, but here’s how they describe their work:
The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation employs a venture capital model of investment to support visionary social entrepreneurs who generate sustainable impact at a large scale. The Foundation finds nonprofits led by talented social entrepreneurs with high impact models, funds those early stage nonprofit organizations with $300,000 over three years and supports their growth and impact by serving as a board member and creating a learning community for the nonprofit leaders.
This strategy has yielded strong social returns to date. The Foundation’s first fund started in 2002 and contributed $14 million to 30 nonprofit organizations. The portfolio addresses a range of issues domestically and internationally, including education, health, economic development, human rights and civic engagement. Organizations grew significantly during their time in the portfolio, increasing their budget on average 10x and reporting that their impact more than doubled each year.