As the term suggests, the idea behind big bet philanthropy is to pour large amounts of resources into a small number of groups, with the goal of shifting practice throughout society. This is the possible “big gain” of the big bet.
In a foreword to the OEOC report, Diane Ives of the Kendeda Fund offers four primary objectives (paraphrased here): 1) increase the number of employee-owned businesses, with an emphasis on encouraging the development of those that are run democratically and address the economic and racial wealth gap; 2) use grant dollars to leverage additional investments; 3) strengthen core elements of a supportive ecosystem; and 4) amplify coverage of employee ownership in the media.
To do this, the foundation initially made investments in four organizations—the Fund for Employee Ownership (part of Evergreen Cooperatives), Nexus Community Partners, the ICA Group, and Project Equity. The first organization is an Ohio-based loan fund subsidiary of an employee-owned business nonprofit holding company, the second is a Twin Cities-based funding intermediary, and the last two are nationally focused nonprofit technical assistance organizations (with ICA Group based in Massachusetts and Project Equity based in California). Additionally, two years in, Kendeda made a $1 million grant to seed a joint-communications strategy of the four groups, branded as EO Equals (or Employee Ownership Equals).