As the COVID-19 pandemic puts an unprecedented financial strain on small businesses and nonprofits across the U.S., a new consulting firm in Fort Wayne is rising up to help—allowing those who want to give back to the community to stretch their dollars to go farther.
The firm is called Hyper Local Impact, and it’s the brainchild of impact investing entrepreneur Kristin Giant.
Having built her career working for the innovative Impact Finance Center in Colorado as well as Ambassador Enterprises in Fort Wayne, Giant's vision for her company is to bolster small businesses and nonprofits through the often untapped power of impact investing.
“The overarching goal of Hyper Local Impact is to rebuild an inclusive local economy, acknowledging that we win when everyone in our community is building wealth and security,” Giant says. “It's about helping individuals, for-profit businesses, and nonprofits rethink the way that they deploy dollars to do it in ways that make the most sense for our community, as a whole.”
So what is impact investing in the first place? Put simply, it’s doing well by doing good, and it can benefit places like Fort Wayne by circulating dollars within local economies.
While the financial mumbo-jumbo may be difficult to follow, Giant is teaming up with the organization CreativeMornings Fort Wayne, a free monthly breakfast lecture series, to give people a way to put impact investing into action—with an extra dose of caffeine.
The two organizations are launching a promotion on social media today, asking Fort Wayne residents to participate in a special #LoveBombChallenge where you "Buy One, Get One, Give One.”
Here’s how it works:
- Buy One: Purchase a $35 gift card to Conjure Coffee. (Gift cards can be purchased on-site.)
- Get One: Email a photo of your Conjure receipt along with your name to [email protected], and you will be set up for a free one-year membership to Artlink to support our creative community.
- Give One: As a way to pay-it-forward, think of someone who could use some extra love right now, and give them a free $35 Conjure gift card, too! (Maybe it’s a frontline care worker, a business owner, or a friend out of a job.) You’ll automatically receive a bonus gift card with the purchase of your first, and the recipient is up to you!
To fund the free Artlink memberships and Conjure gift card giveaways, Giant is working with anonymous investors and donors in Northeast Indiana who believe in the power of impact investing to mobilize money in communities.
For example, rather than giving money one time to Conjure or Artlink, the investor’s funds are being used strategically to leverage more people to buy into Conjure and Artlink’s success by getting them to purchase gift cards and secure memberships. In this way, the money going to support Conjure doubles, Artlink gets new members, and the Fort Wayne community reaps the added benefits of bringing more people into the circle of local support.
“Here, we're able to take an initial investment and leverage it three times to support not only an incredible local for-profit company, Conjure Coffee, but also an incredible local arts nonprofit, Artlink, and to help support frontline workers and those who need extra love right now in our community through the #LoveBombChallenge,” Giant explains.
In other words, it’s a win-win-win scenario.
Giant says that Hyper Local Impact will be contributing an additional $500 to catered meals for local Walgreens employees once the entire goal amount of $2,500 worth of Conjure gift card purchases is reached.
As Executive Director of Artlink, Lynette Scott says her team is excited about the promotion, too, since Artlink is preparing to reopen its gallery space to guests in June. The contemporary art gallery closed to the public when the pandemic hit Fort Wayne on March 14th, but its staff and board members have been working diligently behind-the-scenes to keep the momentum going and improve processes since then, Scott says.
“Right now, we’re looking to reschedule as many exhibitions as possible,” she explains.
The gallery is opening its 40th National Print Exhibition online on Thursday, May 28. It hopes to open this exhibition to walk-in visitors on June 14th.
Later this summer, all Artlink members will be invited to participate in the gallery’s annual Members Exhibition, which invites anyone with an Artlink membership to submit a piece that meets the gallery’s display requirements.
“It’s our only unjuried exhibition each year, and it’s one of the exhibitions where the community really shows up,” Scott explains.
As new Artlink members, participants in the #LoveBombChallenge will get the chance to show their work, too.
For CreativeMornings Fort Wayne, the #LoveBombChallenge offers them the added benefit of giving back to their sponsors. As a free, public event, CreativeMornings is made possible entirely by donors and volunteers. Conjure donates free coffee to its monthly meetups, and Artlink was its founding sponsor in 2019, offering space and logistical support.
Giant, who has volunteered with CreativeMornings before, points out that in a way, new creative ventures and organizations in Fort Wayne are able to exist only because existing organizations have the capacity to support them.
“Anytime someone buys a cup of coffee from Conjure or supports Artlink, they are already indirectly supporting CreativeMornings,” she says. “This is why shopping local is so important. You're much more likely to find a locally owned business supporting local, grassroots initiatives like CreativeMornings. So it’s been fun to work with CM on a way to ‘flip the script’ and give back to their sponsors.”
The #LoveBombChallenge demonstrates the power of collaboration and support in Fort Wayne’s creative community—and encourages more people to plug into organizations like Artlink that are building up the city’s grassroots arts scene.
If you miss out on this impact investing opportunity, Giant says don’t worry. More fun giving opportunities are on the way.
“We have another challenge coming up in a few weeks on @HyperLocalImpact’s Instagram that will give locals more opportunities to become the megaphones that our local businesses need during this time of unknown,” she says.
Full disclosure: This article was written by Kara Hackett, who is the host of CreativeMornings Fort Wayne.