by Lisa Christian

“Working with the Point B team on establishing the Shared Future Fund has been invaluable. From the very beginning, I was impressed with their conscientious approach to understanding the vision of the project, process of assembling a strong team with the right skill sets and backgrounds, communication style and cadence to keep the project progressing, and framework for developing a comprehensive and robust strategy that takes into consideration previous work done and input from all stakeholders. Even more than the excellent product, the team cares about their customer, their work, and understands the value and long-term positive impact their contributions are making to an organization and a community.”

— Lauren Boitel, Executive Director, ImpactNV

The Challenge

Caesars Entertainment knew that it wanted to make a big impact in its hometown of Las Vegas. An idea slowly started to take shape — one that went far beyond the bounds of traditional corporate philanthropy.

What strategy could the company adopt to bring together influential partners around shared values?

Caesars first set out to define what those values were and which problems it could start to address. The organization laid out three issues that it wanted to tackle — and they couldn’t have been more ambitious.

  • Human trafficking: The rate of sex trafficking in Nevada is twice the national average. The effort would help to both prevent sex trafficking and aid its victims.
  • Homelessness: Through collective action, Caesars wanted to reduce the homelessness rate in Nevada, which is the nation’s third-highest.
  • Immigration integration: One in five workers in Nevada is an immigrant. Caesars thought there could be a way to build stronger communities through access to education, employment, language services, naturalization and healthcare.

People and organizations tend to specialize and divide into social, political or business domains. But really big problems don’t respect these distinctions. Instead, these challenges require the entire community to collaborate, lean in, and to work toward a common future.

Caesars, in partnership with ImpactNV and Shared Future Fund brought on Point B with the goal of using the consulting firm’s expertise in social impact and strategy. Together, they approached the social impact work from the lens of launching a new business or product, asking all the same questions that are part of launching a startup or new business model.

Caesars and ImpactNV knew this project needed to be bigger than its own interests and it didn’t want to limit the ultimate vision. The gaming and entertainment operator chose ImpactNV, a well-established local nonprofit known for its strong community network and track record in sustainability. Caesars intentionally kept the project separate from its charitable arm, the Caesar’s Foundation.

The company realized that if it wanted to accomplish something ambitious, it needed to focus to realize impact in any of the concerned areas. Working with Point B, the gaming and entertainment giant decided to first hone in on human trafficking, a challenge that had already gained traction at the state and local levels.

Establishing the Shared Future Fund

After a series of talks with stakeholders from different organizations, strategy workshops and research, a more defined view began to take shape. The Shared Future Fund was established, which was informed by the diverse interests and impact goals of everyone involved.

Caesars, ImpactNV and Point B looked at a range of operational models — including impact investing, not-for-profit and for-profit — and eventually decided to establish a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The fund would be controlled and managed by ImpactNV. That autonomy ensured that the organization could reflect the desires of funders who give through grants, loans and investments as well as critical community partners, such as Law Enforcement. A new board and governance model was established to support the vision.

Point B Capital, the company’s investment arm, brought critical expertise around how to start and manage investment funds. Rather than create a fund that would compete with other local nonprofits, Caesars set out to form a vehicle for new financing of solutions through loans, donations and investments in these nonprofit and for-profit partners.

Caesars built a business case for the fund, partnership with ImpactNV, and a roadmap for how to go from vision to impact, which involved further defining the operational and financial models. Caesars provided and initial investment to help create a process to define the mission, vision and goals. The initial strategy for addressing human trafficking in southern Nevada was later approved by the board.

The project is the first of its kind for Nevada and could serve as a model for future collaborations that aim to root out systemic inequality. The fund could also act as a kind of safety net for the community’s most vulnerable citizens, starting with sex trafficking victims, but eventually extending to homeless people and immigrants.

The project’s strength lays in the theory of change that it embraced: With all the capabilities already present in the area, private, civic, and nonprofit players, the Shared Future Fund could amplify the efforts to reach impact of everyone involved.