United Way’s Venture Fund is a brand new initiative that will fuel the great ideas of tomorrow. Nonprofits in the 153 cities we serve in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine are eligible to submit proposals for game-changing innovations they could make with an injection of $75,000. After a juried selection process, up to four nonprofits from a pool of over 140 organizations will be selected to receive this funding to bring their ideas to life.
A group of volunteers will review which nonprofits in our community have the best ideas for putting the funding to work. The volunteer reviewers will evaluate the applicant pool based on the following, equally important criteria:
- Solutions that are new and innovative ways to solve a problem that aligns with United Way’s goals
- Approaches that require collaborations between nonprofits and other sectors, such as government and business
- The intention to impact a significant portion of the target population over the next ten years
- The nonprofit’s solution should be one cash infusion away from being ready to test
The level and nature of support provided by The Venture Fund is what sets it apart from other local initiatives. Selected nonprofits will be able to take new risks and test new ideas in ways that haven’t been previously possible.
Here are just a few of the ways this cash infusion could be transformative for nonprofits in our community:
- Phasing out old, outdated models of intervention and replacing them with approaches attuned to how people live in 2019
- Identifying the populations that tend to fall through the cracks of existing programs and catching them
- Creating solutions that have bigger start-up costs, but which will prove more effective— and more financially sustainable — in the long-term
What does the The Venture Fund need in order to be a success?
Volunteers. Without volunteers to sort, vet, and review submissions, the number of applications would overwhelm our current staff.
Funding. The program is currently funded for one year. In order to spur innovation at the level we envision, we’ll need to expand the program into the future.
While very new in some ways, The Venture Fund is, at heart, a natural extension of United Way’s model, which involves partnering with great organizations with a proven track record of expertise in the work they do. In fact, the Venture Fund closely follows United Way’ tradition of shepherding exciting, innovative programs. Under United Way’s care, these programs have always been identified, piloted, and scaled in a way that ensures greatest success. The consensus? The best programs have always been collaborative, with a focus on outcomes. The Venture Fund will prioritize these same kinds of programs, and accelerate the impact we bring to the people we serve.