Philanthropy is... Enterpreneurial: What We Heard at Local Matters: Idaho

Philanthropy is... Enterpreneurial: What We Heard at Local Matters: Idaho


Jon Stahl, Communications Director

Last week we were thrilled to welcome a capacity crowd of 70+ philanthropists, social entrepreneurs, government officials, nonprofit leaders and academics to Boise, Idaho for the second event in our 2015 Local Matters series. Together, we had a rich set of conversations about how community investors — and we are all community investors! — can put all our forms of capital to work in service of building more resilient, equitable and inclusive Idaho communities in a world of rapid demographic, economic and environmental change.

Some of the key themes that reverberated throughout our large and small group conversations included:

  • The changing face of Idaho. Idaho Commerce Department Director Jeff Sayer spoke of Idaho's "gray tsunami" of retirees and the shifts in the labor market it is driving. By 2022, Idaho is expecting Idaho expecting 109,000 new jobs, but only 14,000 new residents under 65. "In the future," he said, "states will stop recruiting industry and start recruiting talent." Meanwhile over 50% of Idaho jobs currently pay less than $15/hour. These are profound challenges for business, education, government, nonprofits and philanthropy — and a huge opportunity to work together in new ways. (See Director Sayer's presentation slides.)
  • Idaho needs a stronger brand. Many participants observed that Idaho needs a clearer brand and strategy to attract and retain both skilled workers and investment.
  • Mission investing is big and getting bigger. Mission investing can put more assets in service for mission and free up resources for philanthropy. But it's still widely understood as more risky than it is, and it's not nearly accessible enough to average investors — and connecting investors with deals remains a challenge even for experienced practitioners. Pay for success is a promising new tool in the toolbox, and the City of Boise is exploring it as a means of addressing chronic homelessness, but still needs lots of support to get rolling.
  • There's tremendous local-scale innovation in community investing. Some local communities, e.g. Sun Valley, are doing really innovative work to create community-scale resilience and economic opportunity. There is potential to scale and replicate these models across the state, but these collaborations need network mapping, investments in building community identity (both local and statewide) and general capacity-building support to thrive.

The philanthropic sector continues to evolve rapidly, and we are looking forward to convening another scross-sector group of community investors next month in Big Sky, Mont. to continue the conversation about building strong networks. Please join us — one thing we heard loud and clear in both in Boise and last month in Sheridan, Wyo. was that there are a lot of smart people looking to connect with each other and a lot of great conversations to carry forward into collaborative action.

Local Matters: Idaho was sponsored by the J.A. & Kathryn Albertson Foundation, Foundant, JPMorgan Chase and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. Thank you!