Venture Philanthropy

The Phoenix Club of Nashville strives to make a positive, outsized, and permanent impact upon the lives of Middle Tennessee’s under-served youth. We align our membership, fundraising platforms, and strategic partnerships with this goal because we believe that, with smart alignment of resources and focused support, every child can chart a path to success and secure a brighter future for themselves.

With a growing number of youth-focused nonprofits worthy of support, and seeking to amplify the impact of our investments, we created a merit-based ‘Venture Philanthropy’ process to allocate donations to the most deserving projects. Venture Philanthropy allows us to apply venture capital and business management concepts to our philanthropic pursuits, using total community impact to measure return on investment.

In 2016, our Board formally approved and adopted our Venture Philanthropy model. This model now governs the evaluation, approval, stewardship and reporting of all club grants. Features of the model include:


Members generate investment ideas in-house, identify strong nonprofit partners, and work alongside these partners to craft qualifying grants.


For all grants, we evaluate potential grantees and projects, and require the formal approval of both an internal Selection Committee as well as our full Board.


During a grant, members maintain a relationship with the grantee, monitor progress against milestones, look for other ways to help (e.g. volunteering, referrals, board service), and measure performance against goals.


We produce case studies of all grants, in order to learn from our experiences and to provide clear, consistent reporting to our partners.

We continue to build a strong pipeline of opportunities and accept the support of private philanthropists and foundations in the Middle Tennessee community. Our goals for the upcoming year include:

• Extending our Venture Philanthropy message into the nonprofit community through our 100+ active professional members.

• Identifying and engaging with high-performing nonprofits that can alleviate (and preferably solve) the most pressing problems affecting our community’s under-served youth.

• Deepening our relationships with existing nonprofit partners, finding synergies between our partners, and employing a ‘continuous improvement’ mindset towards future projects.

• Building on our track record of success to maximize our fundraising potential and ability to impact our community.

Our members are actively involved with impressive nonprofits including: Backfield in Motion, Barefoot Republic, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee, Boy Scouts of America, Coaching For Literacy, Communities in Schools, Family & Children’s Service, The Family Center of Tennessee, Habitat for Humanity, Jobs for TN Graduates, Jonah’s Journey, Junior Achievement, Justice Industries, Nashville Classical Charter School, Nashville Dolphins, Nashville Public Library Foundation, Preston Taylor Ministries, RePublic Schools, Rocketship Education, Second Harvest Food Bank, Valor Collegiate Academies, Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, and W.O. Smith School of Music.