About The Delta Fund
The Delta Fund makes charitable grants and impact investments that focus on improving equity around the world. Our focus is specifically on improving racial justice in the United States, bringing greater financial inclusion around the world and ending extreme poverty.
We are starting this blog to share what we have learned, the challenges we have faced and highlight the amazing organizations whose work is changing the world for good.
We originally began Delta Fund as the philanthropic part of what we do with the finances that we have. Over the past three years we have changed our approach and now look at how we align all of our finances to our values. This means that we look not only at the grants that we give and the impact investments in our DAF but also our personal assets and how we can better invest them to foster those principles above.
The journey to realign how we approach our finances has been a challenging but fulfilling journey. We have learned that the industry really isn’t well set up to foster impact, that ESG is often more of a marketing term than substance, and that there are ways to invest money that have real impact and do good in the world. We will share those learning and more on this blog.
One of the issues in the philanthropic and impact investing world is a staggering lack of transparency on what is funded, where funds come from and how assets are invested while they sit in foundations and DAFs. Over the coming weeks we will work to share our first reports on what we fund and how we invest.
We got lucky and found that we had more resources than we needed. We believed we could do some social good with the money that extended beyond our needs. While this has been true we have discovered that there is a steep learning curve to doing that well and the responsibility has been sobering. We have learned a lot and have certainly made mistakes. This is a big reason that we want to share these ideas as well. Transparency is the right thing to do but helping others learn on their journey (and hopefully hearing more from others to learn from them) is part of doing this well too.
We will also share more complete thoughts on some of the areas that our work has highlighted as successful ways to impact the world for good. A quick highlight on some of these efforts that we will expand more on soon are:
Graduation programs pair educational and training content with grants to help people start and successfully grow businesses. These businesses provide a lasting livelihood for the business owners and their families and are shown to outperform direct cash transfers over time. Organizations like Village Enterprise are provably improving lives through their work deploying graduation models in Africa.
ESOP / CO-OP models
Asset ownership is an important vehicle that enables people to earn a better living while also building ownership for the long term. Two important growing trends are in Employee Stock Ownership (ESOP) and Cooperative (Co-op) ownership of businesses. Whether these structures are created at the start of a business or during the sale of a successful existing business they can lead to better outcomes for employee-owners. Organizations like Project Equity are building successful programs to help grow ESOP transitions of existing businesses.
Deploying Donor Advised Fund (DAF) and Foundation capital for good
A staggering amount of capital (over 1 TRILLION dollars) is held in US DAFs and foundations around the world. Fidelity Charitable, for example, is the largest charity in the United States and holds over $30 billion in assets. Those assets are largely invested in general market investments - not investments designed to improve the world or further the mission of those foundations. We believe this needs to change and that new investment models should be tested to unlock this capital for impact. We are actively investing in impact oriented funds and efforts as well as testing new models like Development Impact Bonds (DIBs) and other Results Based Funding (RBF).
More to come and we look forward to a dialogue on this work.