Returns on Investment 

To ensure quantifiable returns on investment, the Lever Fund generates benefit-cost ratios for prospective nonprofit investees, and then invests in those organizations that promise the highest return on philanthropic dollars.

We monetize the value of funded organizations’ outcomes, using best estimates of the aggregate benefit to their low-income clients that each investment creates per dollar cost to the Lever Fund—for example, by measuring a projected boost in future earnings.

The Board of Directors covers all Lever Fund operating costs, so 100% of every contribution is invested directly into the selected nonprofits.

Informed Philanthropic Investors

As we are committed to making every Lever Fund investor an informed investor, we are committed to full transparency in how we calculate metrics and ROI. In collaboration with the nonprofits we fund, we publish on our website both benefit-cost analyses and impact reports.

(See the benefit-cost analyses for our first three investees on Our Impact.)

Investment Footprint

  • In our initial investments, we have focused on organizations that assist individuals along on their career paths—largely through workforce development, education, and training.
  • In time, we will broaden our funding scope to attack poverty on multiple fronts through investments in nonprofits that target early child development, health, housing, and hunger issues.

Creating a Culture of Innovation with Our Investees

The Lever Fund seeks to shift the burden from impact reporting to impact partnership in ways that give our investees the latitude to be innovative.

It is our hope that, through the implementation of our investment model, the DMV population will come to view nonprofit funding differently—recognizing the value of data and measurement and ROI/impact—and demanding results. By virtue of our work, more people will recognize that there is broad, community-wide economic value in lifting our neighbors out of poverty.

Poverty May Persist—But We’ll Fight It Relentlessly. No one can argue that poverty in our region has stubbornly persisted and actually grown—despite the determined efforts of many well-intentioned individuals and organizations. Poverty persists not because people don’t care or aren’t working hard to alleviate it, but because the efforts to end poverty too often are neither efficient nor effective.

The Lever Fund has no illusions about completely “ending” poverty in the DMV. But in partnering with community-minded others, we do two things:

  • Demonstrate the power of a metrics-based, ROI-oriented, impact-demanding approach to fighting poverty; and
  • Invite questions about how nonprofits are and could be running their organizations and how our community is and could be making philanthropic investment decisions.