Rodney Christopher, Vice President of Advisory Services for the Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF), has become the F.B. Heron Foundation’s first Practice Innovation Fellow, starting March 4, 2013 for the period of one year.
The F.B. Heron fellowship in Social Investment Practice is intended to allow highly talented senior practitioners from leading social sector organizations to explore and advance innovative ideas for new areas of investment in their sector. Visiting fellows work with F. B. Heron, their home institutions and allied parties to advance field-wide innovation.
The F.B. Heron Foundation was created in 1992 with the mission of helping people and communities to help themselves out of poverty. The new fellowship comes amid F.B. Heron’s change in strategy, one intended to deploy all the resources at its disposal in a broad, multi-sector approach that seeks opportunities to influence and be influenced through co-investment, advocacy and example.
Christopher will focus on expanding within the philanthropic community the understanding and availability of “change capital,” a financing practice developed by NFF’s Capital Partners division to support sustainable growth of high-performing nonprofits and, under Christopher’s leadership, expanded throughout NFF’s consulting practice to address a wide range of efforts to build more effective organizations.
Announcing the fellowship, Clara Miller, President of the F. B. Heron Foundation, said, “We are delighted that someone of Rodney’s experience, versatility and talent will be our first fellow, and that we are able to partner with both him and NFF to take an important financial tool forward. The fellowship is intended to honor individuals like Rodney on their practice excellence and allow them to innovate from a base of experience.”
Christopher will act as “an ambassador of ideas,” to help donors become more comfortable with the notion of providing sizable sums of money to organizations for use as enterprise capital. “It is an ambitious project and, I hope, a meaningful opportunity for the communities our sector serves. I am honored to have been selected by F.B. Heron for this fellowship and am excited about the conversations and progress that lie ahead,” he said.
With nearly two decades of experience at NFF, Christopher's clients are both nonprofits and foundations, and he has divided his time between custom engagements, client coaching, public presentations, product development and training NFF staff. In 2001, he managed the Nonprofit Recovery Fund, an 18-month project that raised and distributed over $10 million to help New York City nonprofits recover financially from the economic effects of September 11th. Findings from that work informed his effort to lead the creation of NFF’s signature advisory service, the Nonprofit Business Analysis, which has generated more than $15 million in revenue since 2006. Most recently, he has been Co-Manager and Program Officer for NFF’s $15 million Leading for the Future (LFF) initiative. The five-year program funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has provided more than $10 million in "change capital" to ten arts and culture organizations and has produced several publications and webinars articulating the importance of the change capital concept.
He has a Master of Science degree in Urban Policy Analysis and Management from The New School and holds a B.A. summa cum laude in Social Sciences from Bard College at Simon's Rock, which established a scholarship fund in his name in 2006 to help its students afford study abroad. Christopher is the Board Treasurer for Fractured Atlas, a technology-driven national service organization for artists and arts organizations.