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Reference no. SI116
Subject category: Entrepreneurship
Published by:
Stanford Business School (2017)
31 January 2017
Revision date:
20 pages
Data source:
Field research


In early 2016, Thomas Laffont, then-chairman of the board at Tipping Point Community, a nonprofit organization fighting poverty in the San Francisco Bay Area, gathered with over two dozen fellow board members for a retreat to discuss, among other things, the future of the fast-growing organization. In the 11 years since its founding, Tipping Point had raised nearly USD120 million and impacted the lives of more than 600,000 people in need. In 2016 alone, Tipping Point raised USD21.9 million for grantee organizations, including USD13.4 million from its main donor event in May 2016, while its profile continued to attract donors to a community hoping to feel that they were part of something larger. Still, for an organization in which data and performance were central to its model, board members questioned the amorphousness of Tipping Point's mission statement, favoring something concrete and measurable. At the same time, persistent growth in the number of people living in poverty in the Bay Area made the problem of eliminating homelessness in the area seem unsolvable. With 1.3 million people living in poverty in the Bay Area (more than double the figures at the time of Tipping Point's founding), the team had to ensure the alignment of its business model with its mission in order to have a quantifiable impact on those in need. This case describes the challenges faced in the formation of a sustainable for-profit impact venture capital fund. It covers the founding of the organization, its innovative model for giving, the new generation of donors, as well as a discussion of performance measurement.


Nonprofit organizations; Social impact; Social responsibility; Fund raising; Social services; Social issues; Poverty
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