Memphis is considered one of the most generous cities in the U.S. The city also has an estimated 175,000 people who live in poverty, including more than 75,000 children. What if the city’s generous spirit better aligned with the great need to eliminate poverty? That’s the goal of Slingshot Memphis, an organization that started in 2017 with the mission to align that strong giving spirit with those working to combat poverty in Memphis.
Slingshot Memphis applies investment principles - quantitative and qualitative analysis - to identify, fund, and accelerate a portfolio of organizations with highly effective solutions that improve the quality of life for Memphians living in poverty. Slingshot Memphis targets four key areas to better leverage its potential impact: jobs/economic security, education, early childhood/youth and stabilization. Its model is based on the Robin Hood Foundation, the largest poverty-fighting organization in New York City, which was founded by native Memphian Paul Tudor Jones.
“Given the fact we’re the most generous city but also the most impoverished, merely adding money to the game won’t affect system-level change,” said Justin Miller, CEO and founder of Slingshot Memphis. “Years ago I started doing research and landed on Robin Hood. It has an excellent framework to gauge impact. Memphis has limited resources so it’s necessary to invest in those things that have the highest return. We can’t just invest in good things.”
Slingshot’s analyses and support helps nonprofits and investors alike to better identify which interventions and programs create the most impact per dollar of cost. In doing so, Slingshot aims to position everyone - funders and fighters - to invest our community's limited resources in the most effective manner possible.
Effective measurement, monetization, and research help facilitate best practices; however, most nonprofits in Memphis do not have the bandwidth, training, or resources to implement these practices. Slingshot is working to fill this gap.
Slingshot also invests money via its Impact Fund, which consists of donations made by its investors. Who is an investor? Anyone. “There’s a law student in Knoxville who sends $10 every month. In April, a 12-year-old became an investor,” Miller said. “There are others who give much larger sums of money. Some give recurring gifts, others give on a one-time basis. Since we invest these funds as expeditiously and strategically as possible, we need everyone to join this movement and become investors.”
Slingshot started in 2017 with four nonprofit partners. It worked with those nonprofits for a year, estimating their impact. Slingshot also raised and invested $500,000 in them at the end of the year. This January, another six organizations were added as partners and are undergoing the same analysis. Slingshot’s goal for 2018 is to raise $1 million for its Impact Fund. Since Slingshot’s operating costs are fully covered, every dollar raised will be invested in its partner organizations.
“We do this with rigor and objectivity but we do it with grace, humility, and in partnership with the organizations fighting on behalf of our under-resourced neighbors,” Miller said. “We’re partners in this work. Ultimately, we are addressing the lack of effective measurement and transparency, in order to facilitate more justice.”
To become an investor or for more information, visit slingshotmemphis.org.
Listen to our recent cityCURRENT Radio Show interview with Founder & CEO, Justin Miller below.
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