The Outsized Impact Award honors an individual at an Exponent Philanthropy member organization whose style of philanthropy is achieving outsized (or greater than expected) impact. Read this year’s finalists’ inspiring stories.
Mortenson Family Foundation (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
As the community relationship officer at the Mortenson Family Foundation, Danyelle O’Hara is centering community in the foundation’s decision-making. Danyelle and the foundation collaborate with nonprofit organizations that are working on solutions to their communities’ greatest challenges. She looks for partners that align with the foundation’s values, work hard to improve the lives of community members, and focus on sustainable solutions.
In order to strengthen the foundation’s relationships with its partners, Danyelle helped create representative committees for the foundation’s programs. As is common with family foundations, members of the Mortenson family initially made up the foundation’s committee members. However, in 2020 Danyelle engaged around 70 members of the community with diverse backgrounds through a series of focus groups and workshops. In time, they reviewed and revised the foundation’s guidelines to better align with its racial equity commitments. This has helped the foundation build trust in the community. It also helps assure partners that the perspectives and lived experiences of the populations it’s serving are driving funding decisions. What’s more, through this community engagement process, Danyelle identified five people to join her grant committee.
Above all, Danyelle is deeply committed to reducing barriers and sharing power with the foundation’s nonprofit partners. Understanding that nonprofits have limited resources and time, Danyelle and her colleagues have worked to reduce the application burden. To illustrate, the foundation offers applicants the choice of submitting applications verbally or in writing. Similarly, the Mortenson Family Foundation has clear application FAQs and resources on its website.
Through their equity efforts, Danyelle and her colleagues at Mortenson Family Foundation have changed the perception of decision-making processes within family foundations. They involve the community members most impacted by their work and listen deeply to their insights.
Patricia Foley Hinnen
Capital Sisters International (Golden, Colorado)
As founder and CEO of Capital Sisters International, Patricia Foley Hinnen raises business capital for women in developing countries while promoting gender-lens investing. Patricia launched the investment fund after decades of experience in international development with the U.S. Peace Corps, Congress, the microfinance industry, and the State Department.
All in all, Patricia’s combination of creativity and realism distinguishes her style of philanthropy. She designed, piloted, and executed an innovative “blended capital” model that uses a combination of investments to finance micro loans and donations to fund loan management expenses. As a result, Patricia’s enduring commitment to lean operations allows their resources to go where they’re needed most—the field. Exemplifying the power of passionate purpose, she cultivates deep ties and connections to the activist community. Patricia’s work in the policy arena gives her a unique understanding of the entrenched and systemic causes of poverty and inequality. Given that, she leverages data, engages with decision makers and global leaders, and takes advantage of opportunities to create exponential impact on a global scale.
The most powerful aspect to Patricia’s style of philanthropy is her dual-approach strategy. While working in the field on a direct level to provide funds to women experiencing poverty in developing countries, she also works intensely at the policy level to combat the systemic issues that have made that work necessary to begin with. She consistently addresses the issue from both directions: prevention and response. Patricia has built an inclusive and expansive community to provide catalytic funds to women and their families.
Channel Foundation (Seattle, WA)
As executive director of the Channel Foundation, Katrin Wilde fuels grassroots human rights and social justice movements with solidarity and care. A champion of women, the rights of women with disabilities, LGBTIQ people, and indigenous communities, among other groups, Katrin connects people in her network with resources, ideas, and one another. At the same time, she advocates for investing in social movements through EDGE Funders Alliance, Global Fund for Women, Human Rights Funding Network, and International Funders for Indigenous Peoples.
Above all, Katrin takes an intersectional approach to how she thinks about and supports social justice and human rights movements. For instance, she’s invested millions of dollars in the global movement for LGBTIQ human rights, which is extremely underfunded. Similarly, the foundation has become a visible and constructive member of the feminist funding ecosystem under her leadership. Actively de-centering herself in conversation, Katrin leverages her networks and knowledge in service of movements. What’s more, her leadership is rooted in a deep understanding of her issue areas and respect for local leaders. She’s built critical relationships with leaders on the ground, as well as with funders who can help make a concrete impact.
Katrin listens to community experts and understands their need for core operating support. She offers friendship and a willingness and excitement to engage on issues. However, she trusts leaders to identify the best solutions for their own communities. Thus, Katrin uplifts activists with material support and solidarity, bolstering their work. She gives candid feedback and unconditional support. Katrin understands what activists and grantees need, and prioritizes their visions and the voices of marginalized communities in her philanthropy.