Venture philanthropy makes UK debut

ECI managing director Stephen Dawson has launched the UK’s first general venture philanthropy charitable fund. Impetus Trust will assist charities facing major change by providing long term funding for core costs and management support. Over the next few months the fund is looking to raise up to $4 million and has already secured commitments from leading grant-making charities including World in Need, the Gatsby Foundation and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

Impetus will donate both funds and management expertise to a wide range of charity sectors concentrating on organisations that help people, rather than animal charities or arts and heritage. It will focus on medium-sized charities with incomes of between £0.25 million and £10 million.

The fund is already evaluating a number of opportunities. These range from supporting a charity that works with African villages to help them become self sufficient to a literacy project in primary schools based in the London borough of Southwark which hopes to expand across London.

In addition to Stephen Dawson the trustees include vice chairman Nat Sloane. Sloane was founder and managing partner of Kalchas, a strategy consulting firm, and most recently a partner in Accenture, where he also chaired their charitable foundation. He is also vice chairman of Crime Concern, a crime prevention charity.

Chairman Stephen Dawson said: “We see ourselves providing an impetus to three groups: to charities, requiring support at a critical point of change; to donors, giving them confidence to give or give more; and to business people, bringing new skills and experience to the voluntary sector.”

The launch of Impetus follows in the footsteps of similar ventures in the US, the first of which was launched in 2000 by wireless specialist Dan Kranzler. He is managing partner of eFund, an early stage venture firm that gives all its profits to charity and is said to be the first entirely benevolent VC fund in the US.