While large national foundations seem to have the most awareness regarding L3Cs, some entrepreneurs feel the best shot for foundation program-related investments would actually be at more local levels. They see less red tape and possibly more long-term partnership potential at the local and smaller family foundations:
We were talking more with bigger national foundations, but we're changing that strategy. This year, we're going to be focusing more local, [where] there is less bureaucracy. If a family foundation wants to do something they just get their one lawyer and accountant on board—not an entire room of lawyers and accountants and having to navigate that.
—Christopher Washington, SOLVE L3C; Washington, D.C.
At the small family foundations, there is less awareness, but I think there is more openness. Our feeling has been that, at that level, if we can become insiders and be part of the discussions with boards, that we can sell this—that the reward will outweigh the risk. At that smaller level, in my mind, is where PRIs are going to first appear.
—Brendan McCrann, Future Pointe, L3C; Denver
Marc Lane, who said he has talked with numerous foundations around the country about the L3C, agrees that there is little awareness at the smaller levels of the foundation community but definitely interest once it is explained. As the subject becomes more widespread, he said, some foundations at all levels will more eagerly get involved and others will still stay away:
Different foundations have different ways of handling the opportunity. Some will shy away from it and say, ‘We don't need to do that.' There could be entrenched bureaucracies or a resistance to change that will lead to the conclusion that they don't want to get into program-related investing. That's ok, because plenty are saying this is really something interesting.
—Marc Lane, Marc J. Lane Advisors, L3C; Chicago