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February 19, 2015

Learning from Failures in Venture Philanthropy and Social Investment

Marking a maturing and increasingly courageous sector, EVPA has collected the experiences and lessons from twelve of its member organisations with a view to sharing their learnings from failure with other practitioners.

Bundled in ‘Learning from Failures in Venture Philanthropy and Social Investment’ the report looks at strategies and investments that failed and the reasons they did so.  Outlining risk mitigation strategies, the report focuses on overcoming risk in the strategy of the venture philanthropy and/or social investment organisation and in the execution of specific investments.

The report looks at strategies and investments that failed and the reasons they did so.  Outlining risk mitigation strategies, the report focuses on overcoming risk  in the strategy of the venture philanthropy and/or social investment organisation and in the execution of specific investments.

Pieter Oostlander, EVPA Chairman and a Venture Philanthropy /Social Investment practitioner had this to say about the report: “Within the EVPA community we have encouraged openness about mistakes to learn from each other from the beginning. This report moves that debate on, by documenting and organising the learnings, and sharing them outside the community.  We believe this guide will go a long way to create more transparency and openness around the failures that mark our sector, and to failing smarter in the future.”

EVPA member Peter W. Heller, Executive Director, Canopus Foundation, echoes these comments and says: “Looking back at 2014 as venture philanthropists, we have seen brilliant entrepreneurial initiatives fail, apparently sound projects collapse and courageous ventures unlikely ever to survive surprisingly flourish. I firmly believe that these unexpected ups and downs are an essential part of our mission, taking the risk to reach out to yet unexplored territory in the world of societal change.”

Lisa Hehenberger, our Research and Policy Director says: “This report is showing that failure can be the end of an investment but it can also be the beginning of a learning journey, for you organisation, but also for our whole sector.” She added:  The report is the result of several years of research, knowledge gathering, in depth interviews and workshops with practitioners keen to contribute their learnings. We are certain it will prove useful for all social sector funders.”

The report is available for free here

"We believe this guide will go a long way to create more transparency and openness around the failures that mark our sector, and to failing smarter in the future."

Pieter Oostlander, EVPA Chairman

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