Growing up in Austin, Chelsea Toler and Olivia Dell explored the concepts of building local and global initiatives together and how they’ve made a commitment to dedicate their personal and professional careers to this work. From a small kitchen table with a handful of Next Gen to a now robust and growing community with hundreds of partners and members, the NOVA Impact team has built a unique Next-Gen network, making waves in the impact ecosystem to create change together.
Chelsea: I got my start in the impact and philanthropy sector under the mentorship of Celeste Flores who sits as leadership for Giving Tuesday. I worked alongside 6 other women to run Austin’s Giving Day, Amplify Austin Day, which raised $10 Million for over 750 nonprofit organizations in 24 hours and helped start the organization’s first fund in partnership with several family foundations in the area. Additionally, I learned that power for good is possible with small but determined teams.
What was your experience starting a family foundation as a Next Gen?
Chelsea: After my time at Amplify, I transitioned into starting my family’s private foundation. In researching how to get started and potential models, I decided to build my own model to address the gap in intergenerational philanthropic and impact education for Next Gen (defined as either inheritors or those involved in the impact ecosystem under 40). I wanted to show what Next-Gen were capable of, but also to provide them with a unique opportunity to work on global initiatives and to deploy capital amongst their peers with the support of non kin mentorship. We started as Next Gen sitting around my kitchen table brainstorming what we could do together to make a real difference in the world. Each of us spent months exploring different wonderful communities such as NEXUS, 21/64, Summit, Toniic and more. We soon grew into a Next Gen advisory board of 20 and hosted over 300 family offices, Angel investors/VCs, Corporate Social Responsibility team members from Fortune 500 companies, and nonprofits at our city’s first Impact and Philanthropy summit in partnership with the United Nations.
Additionally, our 20 Next Gen went through an extensive grant education process and deployed grants to several local and global organizations. The summit was held at Google and Parker Jazz Club and was one of the largest events held prior to the pandemic shutdown of Austin including the cancellation of SXSW.
Why do you think Next-Gen need to be a part of the broader impact conversation?
Chelsea: At the beginning of the pandemic, Olivia and I began to reflect on what Next Gen could do to really make a difference as well as how we could continue to align all forms of our capital with our values and social good during the pandemic. We knew Next Gen with incredible stories of service, altruism, and creativity transcending traditional systems of collaboration across sectors to solve timely problems during the pandemic, but did not see these stories being shared with the world. We brought a few examples to the Giving Tuesday leadership team who then entrusted Olivia and me to run the first ever Next-Gen Global Campaign for Giving Tuesday in which we were able to raise over $1.2 million dollars and logged over 1 million Next Gen acts of generosity around the globe. After this initiative, Olivia and I decided to formalize our work with the founding of NOVA Impact, which is more than just an impact-driven organization, it is a community dedicating their personal and professional lives to creating change together. Olivia and I are honored to have helped deploy over $50 million towards social good thus far and don’t see any slowing down in the future.
How did NOVA Impact begin?
Olivia: NOVA Impact is a private, intergenerational community of investors, philanthropists, and entrepreneurs dedicated to supporting impact-driven initiatives. At NOVA, we host a private community in which 22 of our members come to ask questions, share opportunities, and to learn from each other and the community of experts we bring in to share their work and experiences. We cover everything from what the impact ecosystem looks like, key vocabulary, how capital flows within the space, and provide our members with a community of peers to help navigate the often confusing space, and to help them plug into impact-driven initiatives in and outside of the NOVA Community. As Next Gen, we know that there is a lot of scattered information about the Impact Space and a lack of clarity in terms of how to plug in and build expertise. We’re not alone in our thesis that giving Next-Gen the opportunity to engage in the Impact Space even before they step into roles of actively managing financial capital and creates better outcomes in the long-term and built NOVA Impact to facilitate just that.
How has your research and PhD work contributed to your work with NOVA Impact?
Chelsea: Another important aspect of the origin story of NOVA Impact came out of an initial interest in my dissertation topic: “Next Gens & The Greatest Wealth Transfer: Moving Various Forms of Capital Into Impact.” In learning that over 80% of family offices break down within 3 generations, I began to explore what could prevent these breakdowns and contribute to Next-Gen successes in stepping into leader-ship roles. As a result, Olivia and I worked to ensure that NOVA Impact provides Next Gen with a peer network, mentorship outside of their families, and a safe space to practice moving various forms of capital towards social good. We believe that peer groups, mentor-ship, and capital practice set Next Gen up for changing the historical data around failures to lead effectively and wanted to create a solution to support this. NOVA Impact is Next Gen led and seeks to provide these resources from a perspective that Next-Gen can relate to. After completing a cohort or bootcamp, participants receive an invitation to join our private community where members get access to our private in-person and virtual events, projects, networks, and content.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR NOVA?
Chelsea: There’s a lot on the horizon for the NOVA Community. We’ve been able to partner with some incredible organizations including FYLI, The United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network for Youth Venture Philanthropy Fund, Social Venture Partners Austin, and many more to continue to bring new projects and opportunities to our community. We’re running a few exciting upcoming events at Art Basel, South by Southwest in our home city of Austin, and many more. We recently wrapped up an incredible event in The Hamptons in partnership with FYLI to bring a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds together in such a historically monogamous place. Ultimately, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to support our community members in reaching their impact goals and to continue building out the support systems we know that help impact-initiatives thrive.