We strive for clarity.
The world is a minefield of jargon and buzzwords these days. And we're dealing with finance, investment, economics, and community-building, so the land mines are even more abundant. It is crucial that we keep our language and concepts accessible to everyone. We will always simplify complicated concepts, convert buzzwords and jargon to plain language, and respect that our clients have spent their lives perfecting their crafts, not sifting through business textbooks or academic papers on community impact. If we use confusing or vague terminology in any of our communications, call us on it, publicly. That keeps us on our toes, gives us an opportunity to define confusing terms, and might start an interesting conversation or two.
We believe "attachment" is a human need, not a file icon.
We love technology, we use technology extensively to make our clients' lives easier and facilitate the most efficient forms of community investment, but let's be very clear: we aren't technology. Community investment as a process cannot be automated. Technology is a powerful tool, but it's just a tool. Handshakes, eye contact, face-to-face discussion, and the clanking of glasses still matter. And when you're asking someone to take a risk with you, those gestures may matter more than anything else.
We believe in market solutions to market failures.
Our dear state has its share of market failures; lack of realistic funding for perfectly viable, value-producing local businesses being one. There's a temptation to solve market failures with philanthropic solutions: Businesses can't find reasonable investors or loans, so let's give them a grant or hold a contest. Those responses are an inspiration, and they show how much civic and community leadership cares about local business. But free money has its limits, both in terms of dollars available and usefulness in building long-term sustainability. We believe with a little creativity we can compliment philanthropy by opening new paths for businesses to raise money in a sustainable way that creates real economic value for them, their investors and the communities we all share.
We are obsessively hands-on.
Analysis and advice are important, but so is presence. Our fundraising clients can be absolutely certain that we will be there—physically, in person—right alongside them as they seek community investment. Ultimately community investors are investing in our clients, so they they are the stars of the show. But Sidewalk Ventures pledges to be an ever-present supporting cast member, standing right behind them when they need to shine, beside them when they need a co-pilot, and out in front when it's better for the outside advisor to do the talking.
We are transparent.
We have tremendous passion for Michigan communities and the role that local business plays in our economy. We also understand the financial realities facing local businesses. Our fees for community fundraising will always be straightforward and clear. Our post-funding advisory package is simple and priced on a fixed-fee basis. Our fees for consulting, program development and project management will be clear and structured to avoid surprises. If we ever fail in this regard, call us on it, publicly.