Shifting Paradigms

How Venture Philanthropy Strategies Can Help Break the Cycle of Poverty

Evan Feinberg, Executive Director of Stand Together Foundation

Stand Together Foundation’s Executive Director, Evan Feinberg, was recently invited to speak with Nonstop Nonprofit, a podcast created by Funraise to explore topics that impact nonprofit leaders around the country. In this episode, Evan shared the way that Stand Together Foundation partners with innovative nonprofits around the country to scale innovative, empowering solutions to poverty. Below are a few highlights from the conversation. Check out the full episode at

Nonstop Nonprofit featuring Evan Feinberg

  1. Breaking the cycle of poverty requires redefining it as an innovation problem.
    “Many people think about poverty as a resource problem, as a deficiency problem, but I don’t think that’s poverty. I don’t think of people as being broken and deficient and lacking something. Instead, people have incredible, unique gifts and talents to contribute. They have extraordinary potential. And when you think about poverty that way, you realize it’s actually an innovation problem.”
  2. Nonprofits need to start treating beneficiaries as customers.
    “Too often you find nonprofits out there that treat their donors, and their stakeholders, and society at large as their customer. And they’re treating the people that they’re working with that are experiencing poverty as inputs in the social change that they’re offering… We’re looking for customer-focused organizations that are relying on knowledge about what is truly helping those individuals improve their lives. That’s a social entrepreneur to us. Then we’re looking for leaders and cultures that are not just trying to comply with today’s evidence-based best practices. They’re trying to discover what creates value for individuals and society.”
  3. Venture philanthropy starts by finding what’s already working.
    “We don’t think we know the answers – sitting in our offices – as to what will help people living in poverty transform their lives. But when we come across one of these disruptive innovators that is driving change in people’s lives, we see real, tangible results. We ask, ‘how can we help them do more?’”
  4. Innovate with a healthy understanding of risk and potential failure.
    “A lot of times you learn more by trying things and failing than you ever could by playing it safe. If we just fund reliable outputs, we’ll get a whole lot more of what we have today, which is 60 years of the war on poverty and similar efforts in foundations and philanthropic approaches.”

Check out the full episode at

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