Next Level Social Impact Announces Investment in Budget Buddies, Strategic Partnership with Common Impact

July 2020 | 4 min read

New venture philanthropy organization leads by investing in financial equity for low-income women and girls in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, partners with skills-based nonprofit Common Impact to provide access to critical business skills and funding.

Next Level Social Impact, a new Boston-based venture philanthropy firm, has made its first portfolio investment in Budget Buddies, a nonprofit that builds the financial literacy, confidence, and security of low-income women and girls in Massachusetts and New Hampshire is the organization’s first portfolio member. Budget Buddies will receive a cash investment of $225,000 over three years along with strategic counsel and pro bono support from Next Level’s network of partners.

Darcy Brownell, CEO of Next Level Social Impact, said, “We are proud to partner with Budget Buddies and support them in deepening their impact by increasing the number of women served and enhancing their suite of services.”

Budget Buddies helps its clients gain the confidence and skills to improve their lives and the lives of their families through greater economic stability, employment, educational opportunities, and housing security.

Next Level’s investment will help Budget Buddies grow from a small grassroots organization with strong operational footing to a larger organization with more ambitious strategic goals.  With Next Level’s support, Budget Buddies is enhancing its programs, implementing a new branding strategy, and creating a plan for longer term financial stability.

“Supporting the strategic growth of organizations like Budget Buddies is why we exist,” said Brownell. “We believe that the best way to invest in social and economic justice is to blend access to capital with access to business-critical skills and expertise. Budget Buddies, with their focus on financial equity for women and girls in our region, was a natural choice for our first engagement.”

When Next Level first met Budget Buddies, they had recently transitioned leadership to a new Executive Director, Danielle Piskaldo, and launched a strategic planning process focused on growth and intentionality. Budget Buddies was in need of a plan for scale that outlined the goals and expansion required across staffing, funding, operations, programming, and branding in order to achieve their new vision.

Next Level turned to its strategic partner Common Impact, a national nonprofit leader in skills-based volunteerism, to build a team that could help Budget Buddies refine their strategy and lay out their roadmap for scale and intentional growth. Common Impact’s mission is to build a society in which individuals and businesses invest their unique talents towards a shared purpose: strengthening the local communities in which we live and work. Common Impact connects corporate employees to nonprofit organizations with proven models to tackle the greatest challenges our communities face.

“We’re thrilled to support Next Level Social Impact and their investment in Budget Buddies,” said Danielle Holly, CEO of Common Impact. “Now more than ever, we need cross-sector solutions to the challenges created by longstanding systemic inequalities that have only been made more pressing by the double pandemic of racism and COVID-19. The important recognition of skills-based volunteering by Next Level as a powerful way to extend the impact of philanthropic funding couldn’t be more timely. We were founded in Boston in 2000, and this is a great opportunity to stay connected to our core mission: addressing issues of inequality and social justice.”

The volunteers worked together with Budget Buddies’ staff over a period of several months, building on and reinforcing each other’s expertise in areas like business planning, nonprofit governance, market research, and more, as well as producing a concrete, actionable growth plan.

Next Level’s financial investment and its partnership with Common Impact has already resulted in additional capacity for Budget Buddies. They are expanding their services to include both direct service and field building work, developing programs that position them for earned revenue growth, and leveraging new KPIs to track their progress.

In the end, the collaboration itself is becoming a valuable part of the outcome.

“Here we are trying to empower women, but this team has empowered me,” said Danielle Piskadlo, Executive Director of Budget Buddies. “I felt stronger on our calls. That we have come such a long way in such a short period of time is a testament to the amazing team we’ve had guiding us, from Next Level to Common Impact to the skills-based volunteers from JPMorgan Chase, Credit Suisse, and The Petrova Experience. The strategic plan we created is going to be extremely useful for both me and our board of directors as we seek to understand and guide the future of our organization.”