Let's Talk Levers: Fundraising

Let's Talk Levers: Fundraising

By: Emily Kane Miller

The Ethos Lever Model: Fundraising, Explained 

The Ethos Lever Model utilizes fourteen different “Levers” by which an organization can make an impact. Each Lever serves a real opportunity to create value - but when strategically pulled together, result in a powerful and cohesive Social Impact strategy. 

In this blog series, the Ethos team breaks down each Lever - complete with expanded definitions and real-life examples - so you can best understand how to pull the right Levers through your organization's social impact work. See all 14 Levers here.


The Fundraising Lever refers to the act of generating funds to support mission-aligned nonprofit work.

Maximize Fundraising Opportunities: 

  • Mobilize your company’s community to raise funds when timely for specific projects aligned with your social impact focus and goals
  • Community grants can incorporate customer participation in the Grant Committee. Examples include Patagonia Action Works  (environmental focus) and Rare Beauty Rare Impact Fund (mental health focus) 

FundraisingThree Real-Life Examples

1.Patagonia: Patagonia is known as a sustainable outdoor and clothing apparel that has integrated sustainability into their DNA and now wants to help others be able to achieve this. The company supports environmental organizations with defined agendas that display real commitment to long-term change

Patagonia awards environmental grants for environmental conservation, alternative energy, sustainable agriculture, and management of natural resources. Most of the grants range from $5,000 to $20,000 to help grassroots activist organizations that have direct-action agendas and campaigns to support environmental protection. 

Patagonia’s funds are distributed to organizations whose work:

  • Builds an equitable, inclusive and diverse environmental movement
  • Confronts systemic bias, discrimination and injustice in environmental policy or outdoor spaces
  • Is action-oriented
  • Focuses on root causes
  • Has a clear strategy
  • Identifies specific goals and objectives that can be effectively measured to evaluate success
  • Builds public involvement and civic engagement
  • Takes place within the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czechia, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States

Through the distribution of these grants, Patagonia aims to support innovative work that builds connections through outdoor recreation and addresses the root causes of the environmental crisis. Organizations are invited to apply for these grants to receive the support they need to be able to put their initiatives into action.

2.Newman’s OwnPrior to 2018, there had been a longstanding IRS regulation stating that private foundations could not own more than 20% of any for-profit business. (Note: 35% if the foundation could demonstrate that an unrelated person(s) had effective control over the business enterprise.) If a foundation – through a gift or bequest – retained a larger percentage ownership interest, the foundation was given five years to sell any shares in excess of the allowable percentages. If the foundation failed to unload its ownership interest within that time, a strict tax penalty would ensue. 

Paul Newman created the Newman’s Own brand in 1993 with a mission to donate all profits to charity, which he accomplished with great success for 15 years. Newman’s Own was then incorporated under the No Limits, LLC moniker. Upon his death in 2008, Newman gifted 100% of No Limits, LLC’s shares to the Newman’s Own Foundation.  By code, the Foundation would have been forced to sell 80% of the shares within 5 years, which: 

  1. Would have been counter to Newman’s wishes to continue their altruistic mission and legacy, and 
  2. Would have thrown into question the entire purpose of the company, which bore Newman’s name, image, and had become known for donating 100% of proceeds to charitable efforts via the Newman’s Own Foundation. 

After a ten-year regulatory battle, the Newman’s Own team succeeded, and an exception was signed into law with the "Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.”

3.Los Angeles Dodgers FoundationThe Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation focuses on the pressing problems facing underserved communities today, investing in the improvement of education, healthcare, homelessness, and other issues in LA County. 

The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation 50/50 raffle offers fans the opportunity to support communities – while being entered to win big prizes. 50% of the gross receipts of the 50/50 raffle is retained by the Foundation to benefit and support its charitable work.  

Last time the 50/50 raffle was held, the Foundation raised over $3.8 million and awarded $1.93 million in grants to more than 100 mission-aligned nonprofit organizations throughout Los Angeles. By employing this innovative fundraising strategy, the LA Dodgers Foundation raises significant funds to improve education, healthcare, homelessness, social justice, and other pressing issues within its community. 


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