To make the change we want in the world we must work together
The funny thing about mergers is that, by the time you go public with an announcement, you’ve been eating, breathing and dreaming the subject for several months. With the guiding principles agreed and initial thinking in place, you prepare to tell the world your news and wait enthusiastically for the rush of interest and questions. For me, that day is today, and I am thrilled to announce the intention to merge Impetus with The Private Equity Foundation (PEF).
The sparks of new interest will fuel the exciting early days of our proposed new organisation. And questions, not all of which we can answer now, will inevitably generate their own sparks of understanding. But for the moment, for me, the important thing is to stay focused on how venture philanthropy can help some of the most deprived people in the UK, especially children and young people growing up in our society.
Travelling around the UK last year, what struck me was just how many people were stuck in poverty. On one trip to Glasgow, I had the chance to meet a group of individuals being helped by one of Impetus’s portfolio charities, Street League. They all had a different story about their past, but not getting a fair start in life, some family trouble, poor engagement with education, and unemployment were the main themes.
The inspiring thing was how determined each person was to overcome the challenges they faced, and that they had come to appreciate they needed some support. This is where we – and other organisations in the voluntary sector – often step in to do so and do good work. These people are working hard to solve their own problems, trying something they haven’t tried before, but this time with just a little help from somebody who understands exactly what sort of help to provide. They recognised they couldn’t do it alone.
That experience, and many others like it, stayed with me long after I left the communities I visited. If the challenge is to help as many people as possible in such way that they can become positively engaged with society, through education, training or jobs – and there are so many who would benefit from help – I became increasingly aware that we were going to have to team up with other like-minded organisations to make it happen. What the latest Impetus research found is that collaboration amongst charities is increasingly the way forward, but the beneficiary – or the impact on the people helped by charities – must be at the core of making that decision. In order to make the change we want in the world, we must recognise that we can’t always do it on our own.
My vision for venture philanthropy is that it is the platform that really elevates the solutions we know are working well to a much larger scale. If something is innovative – new and better than what has been done before – it deserves to be given the best chance to change more disadvantaged lives. In our case, the UK’s two leading venture philanthropy organisations knew we could be more effective and have a greater impact together. And by combining efforts to turbo-charge our work, to extend the reach of those organisations with the potential to change the status quo, we hope to have a better chance at really moving the needle on the most persistent social problems.
In the last ten years, both Impetus and PEF have shown how effective venture philanthropy is in identifying and supporting the best of these charities to scale up their impact, become more effective and more sustainable. We are determined to help charities and social enterprises become better at what they do and help more children and young people to get the start in life they deserve. We are merging to pool our expertise and our support, and to redouble our determination to help many more people solve their own problems with the help of the organisations we support.
I am beyond delighted that our organisations are joining forces. I hope the world will be inspired by our determination to break the cycle of poverty that has affected poor families for generations, and will continue to do so unless we work together. Determination is the stuff that people who want to make a change in the world – their world – are made of.