Scott Jackson on Creating Social Impact
Scott Jackson, President and CEO of Global Impact, talks to us about the changing philanthropic landscape, Global Impact’s role as a philanthropic intermediary, and how important Philanthropy University’s learners are in making change happen globally.
Scott Jackson is the President and CEO of Global Impact. A global development, fundraising and marketing veteran with more than 20 years of experience, Jackson provides leadership, direction and oversight for all aspects of the organization, which has raised $1.8 billion since inception to help the world’s most vulnerable people.November 9, 2018
Scott Jackson on Creating Social Impact
Philanthropy University: Please share a bit about yourself, and how you ended up at Global Impact.
Scott: In my background, I’ve been privileged to work in all three sectors (public, private and nonprofit), all focused on international development. I’ve always had a passion for advocacy and promoting the work organizations do on the front lines. For the majority of my career, I have served in leadership roles in the nonprofit sector. When I was asked to join Global Impact, I was excited because the organization serves as a partner to international NGOs in an effort to raise their visibility and fundraising profile. The work centers on building partnerships and resources for the world’s most vulnerable and encouraging the growth of global philanthropy.
Philanthropy University: How does Global Impact aim to reach this mission?
Scott: We fulfill our mission in a number of ways and work with the public, private and nonprofit sectors to do so. First, we provide advisory services to nonprofits to help them figure out how they want to approach donors through campaigns or diversify their fundraising efforts. Second, we serve as host to a number of campaigns and initiatives. This includes marketing coordination, like the work we’ve done for Red Nose Day to engage corporations or with the Combined Federal Campaign in partnership with the federal government. A third area is providing infrastructure, which includes creating the financial and technological platforms necessary to support large fundraising campaigns. Additionally, we provide corporate social responsibility strategy and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) alignment assessments for the private sector.
Philanthropy University: You mentioned some of the organizations which Global Impact works with. Can you share some tangible ways that Global Impact is impacting the philanthropic sector?
Scott: We pride ourselves in working with organizations, such as Philanthropy University, and in supporting their fundraising efforts by doing things like building connections with other organizations, helping set strategy and conducting prospect research—these activities are very rewarding for us because they allow us to help other organizations grow and increase their social impact. Another example of the work we do is the development and launch of Growfund, our no minimum contribution donor-advised fund (DAF), that is available to every nonprofit and individual. We created Growfund because DAFs are one of the fastest growing charitable vehicles in the U.S., and we believe it is important that every person have access to the same tools available to seasoned philanthropists.
Philanthropy University: What makes Global Impact unique in the work you do?
Scott: We were formed 62 years ago to serve as an association for charities focused on international aid and humanitarian work representing them in workplace giving campaigns. We still do this, but the way we think about ourselves and how we fit within the broader landscape is really as a charitable ventures framework. We are supporting the private, nonprofit and public sectors, as well as individual donors. More often than not, these sectors are working together—and we are in a unique position to help facilitate these collaborations. We often house and support the long-term development of their initiatives.
Philanthropy University: What is your personal vision for Global Impact moving forward?
Scott: My vision is that we continue to provide a leadership role as philanthropic intermediaries—where there is a need to manage funds raised around the world, work together and fundraise around key issues, and strengthen individual NGOs and their fundraising.
Philanthropy University: Why is Global Impact a nonprofit versus a for-profit?
Scott: We’ve looked at this a number of times, and considered if there is a need to have a for-profit entity that’s part of Global Impact. But as a whole, we’ve never found that need. It’s been the opposite. As a charity, we can receive funds in a nonprofit charitable setting from all kinds of donors, and that has been invaluable. Having the ability to collect and distribute funds as a nonprofit has been very important for all of our clients, especially the private sector.
Philanthropy University: In your experience, how would you say Global Impact is innovating with the changes happening in the philanthropic space?
Scott: We have a lot of passion around the everyday donor. For example, by launching tools like Growfund we are innovating to give everyday donors the opportunity to have ownership over their giving and social impact, and we are focusing much of our Growfund marketing efforts on everyday donors including Gen X and Millennial donors.
Additionally, on a daily basis we are distributing thousands of dollars around the world. This is on behalf of donors who are trying to create their own social impact during their lives, and our goal is to support them in doing so. According to Giving USA, in 2017 70 percent of all charitable giving came from individuals. Therefore, we need to encourage people to give with impact—by doing this we will have a greater chance of achieving the SDGs and other development frameworks around the world.
A second area where we are innovating is around the need for unrestricted dollars. The ability for nonprofits to raise unrestricted funds, hire ahead of the curve, develop new initiatives, and provide co-funding for key projects around the world, is an ever-increasing area of need. We are pleased to be able to support a wide range of nonprofits in raising precious unrestricted dollars through creative fundraising methods.
Philanthropy University: Along those same lines, what are you seeing to be the biggest challenges at Global Impact and the broader philanthropic space?
Scott: This is where partnerships with organizations like Philanthropy University come into play. Public sector resources are no longer growing or scaling at a rate that is needed to solve problems. Therefore, the need for the private sector to work with civil society is going to be essential. The capacity of local organizations to connect with donors and develop them in their own countries will be very important. Philanthropy University has a critical role in developing that capacity.
Philanthropy University: What has been most eye-opening for you while working at Global Impact?
Scott: One important trend is that many Americans and donors around the world are seeking to have an impact on a given issue. Today, the nonprofit a person gives to is important, but it’s also important for donors that they are having an impact on the overall issue or cause.
Philanthropy University: Anything else you’d like to share?
Scott: It’s important for Philanthropy University learners to know that they are leaders in guiding their organizations. They are instrumental in making their organization more relevant to donors around the world, but also in stewarding their organizations. In today’s world it is also important for every one of us to consider what we can do to have the largest social impact and how we can contribute to achieving the SDGs by 2030.
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