Kirstin Falk on the New Progressive Coalition and "political mutual funds"

John Shinal · January 17, 2008 · Short URL:

CEO Kirstin Falk and the New Progressive Coalition have an ambitious goal: to bring efficiency to the wild and woolly world of political giving.

Just as another San Francisco-based upstart, Charles Schwab & Co., once helped transform the brokerage industry by giving retail investors access to research and low-cost mutual funds, NPC plans to use a financial-services model to "help people target their political giving more effectively," says Falk.

Given the company name and Falk's background -- she formerly worked for Planned Parenthood and for Emily's List, the political action committee that helps elect pro-choice Democratic women -- you might think NPC is another non-profit interest group.

Think again.

Making money, along with funding progressive organizations, is part of the NPC plan. 

The startup researches progressive political organizations and interest groups and then rates their effectiveness using what's called a PROI metric -- that's political return on investment.

While NPC is not yet charging as it "builds out its brand," according to Falk, it will eventually charge companies, foundations and groups of individuals for its research. See the company's pitch here.

NPC has also put together three "political mutual funds" that will donate money to groups with PROI scores that make the cut.

The startup's first three  funds are investing in groups working on health care, the environment and the 2008 elections. Those issues were chosen after NPC conducted focus groups with political donors in Denver and San Francisco.

"People are overloaded with these issues and feel like their hit up for money all the time. Each of the funds looks at groups that span a range of activities and goals," Falk says.

NPC also has what Falk calls "a bold vision" inspired by the fact that more than 80% of U.S. political giving comes from just 130,000 individuals, or less than 0.5% of the population. 

The vision is to bring in a new generation of political donors who can give of their time and expertise as well as their money. Still, that idea is well down the road.

"That will take years for us to get to," Falk says.

NPC, which was founded and seeded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur and venture capitalist Andy Rappaport and his wife Deborah, is now looking to raise another round of financing. 




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