CASE STUDY: KYLE
Kyle had wealth from the private equity firm he founded. His first big gift was inspired by a documentary.
Social Impact Goals
Reducing poverty; increasing opportunity for all.
Talent for Giving
Professional colleague to manage both firm’s and personal philanthropic activity, social sector consulting firm to facilitate strategy, other high-net-worth donors and relevant policymakers to inform approach, professional staff to implement, vendor (grant management software).
The success of the private equity fund that Kyle founded provided him the opportunity to do much more philanthropically than he had ever imagined. One of Kyle’s first big gifts was inspired by a documentary he watched about the school- to-prison pipeline. That documentary discussed the opportunity gap that many disadvantaged children face and profiled one program that had been particularly successful helping youth and young adults transition out of prison to education and long-term careers. Working with a philanthropic services specialist at his private bank, Kyle arranged a major, anonymous donation to that nonprofit.
Over time, as his commitment to addressing poverty and education grew, he sought more help.
He tapped Sam, a promising young associate in his private equity firm, to support both the firm’s, as well as Kyle’s personal, philanthropic activity. While Sam had never worked in philanthropy before, he jumped at the opportunity. As the first in his family to go to college, Sam had a deep, personal appreciation of the issues Kyle was trying to address. Sam shared Kyle’s training in economics, but unlike Kyle who was in his early fifties and white, Sam was in his early thirties and Black. Those demographics, coupled with Sam’s socio-economic background, made him much more approachable to the young people and nonprofit representatives whose perspectives informed Kyle’s strategy.
With Sam’s help, Kyle also engaged a social sector consulting firm that facilitated a series of strategy sessions and conversations with peer donors and relevant policymakers. As a result of these conversations, Kyle began funding social enterprises in addition to nonprofit service providers. One enterprise was a business that employed young people transitioning out of the juvenile justice system. The amount and timeframe of Kyle’s funding were customized to the needs of each recipient, though none extended beyond three years without a formal review of the organization’s progress. That review included results from surveys intended to systematically integrate the experiences of program participants, since both Kyle and Sam wanted evidence from the young people themselves that what Kyle was funding was helping.
As Kyle’s interests and funding efforts grew, Sam saw a need to add more structure to Kyle’s philanthropic work. He hired a small team who brought experience in both philanthropy and nonprofit management. While the team outsourced the mechanics of grant management to a specialized software platform, this team continuously scanned for new opportunities for Kyle to fund. They identified subject matter experts who served as advisors and helped Kyle maintain the network of peer funders, many of whom would fund alongside Kyle.