There is No Steering Wheel on a Roller Coaster

coasterFor me, 2015 had the highest highs and the lowest lows on record. At times I felt like I was on a roller coaster, trying to steer it! Months of hard work into my second startup, NamePlace, we received funding from our first investor. Finally, I’ve joined the ranks of those entrepreneurs who have received funding for their startup. [fluffs feathers]

San Francisco’s Ruby Skye is a dark night club, non-conducive to meeting or pitching investors on a startup. Nonetheless, hundreds gather for an event called Shark Tank Showcase and Demo organized by Jose De Dios. The chances of finding an interested party in this crowded space with a dozen others aggressively pitching their companies is very low. But you go and you go with a smile, passion, and purpose. It was here in March that I met our angel investor, Mark Zehrung, who turned out to believe in that purpose and present me with a check on stage a few days later.


Jose De Dios, Mark Zehrung, Lisa Padilla, Manny Fernandez, Roger King

The investment took our startup to the next level. We moved into Runway, a great San Francisco incubator space, with other interesting startups. No more working at Starbucks. A smiling office manager who never let the printer run out of paper. Regular meetings. A growing customer base. All of the hard work was paying off.

Oh, to share this success with my dad, who passed away in September, putting so much bitter into a sweet year. Losing him, as these things do, made me seriously evaluate my life. Am I following the right path? Am I spending my days the way I want? What would I change? Dad was a no BS kind of guy. He didn’t serve it and he didn’t have time for yours, okay? He was beautiful in this way and he would often point out, if I were to appear indecisive or victimized in any way, that I had control of the wheel. The statement could not be argued.



My maiden name is “Schoolman”, my father’s name, Fred Schoolman. Inseparable, dad and I, they nicknamed me “school girl.” He fostered and fed my interest in technology and gadgets. My dad gave me great confidence in this area. He was a self-taught electrician and took me on jobs with him as a kid. It was common for him to give me tools and equipment to toy with and take apart. He was very technical, always reading electrical code or engineering books. By the time I got to high school I was programming BASIC and Pascal. A few years later I’m managing engineering teams, building businesses and ‘schooling’ the best of ’em. I know he’d be proud.

Next year, it’s about being intentional. Here’s to taking the wheel in 2016!

A Look at the Philanthropy Landscape


Who Are the Emerging Voices in Philanthropy?

A great article from Jessica Bearman and Sarah Deming, Bearman Consulting

For many funders, the idea that philanthropy is changing holds no surprise. Family philanthropy, corporate philanthropy, and community philanthropy already reflect changing demographics as younger donors join family boards; women and people of color lead philanthropic organizations; and donors of all types direct their personal wealth toward public good. To paraphrase cartoonist Walt Kelly’s Pogo: We have met the new philanthropist, and she is us.

At the same time, emerging voices in philanthropy still struggle to be heard. Existing grantmakers and established donors can seize the opportunity to amplify their impact by learning from these new giving styles, motivations, and passions.

All types of people from all walks of life have given generously throughout time—but, for many, an affiliation with mainstream philanthropy is a new development. Who are today’s nontraditional philanthropists, and what makes them different?

Today’s Philanthropists

Increasingly, women, younger donors, and diverse racial and ethnic groups are claiming their spots at the table as significant givers, drawing on longstanding traditions and forging new ones. At the same time, philanthropy is no longer just for the affluent; people at all levels of wealth are pooling their resources to achieve more impact with their giving.

Says Kelly Brown, director of D5, a 5-year effort to bring new voices to the philanthropic table, “An important part of philanthropy’s efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion is to recognize the diversity within philanthropy itself. From peers and colleagues who are major donors to our shared causes to small giving circles in communities around the country, learning from and embracing the many ways all communities give can only strengthen our shared commitment to advancing the common good.”

Women’s Influence Is Growing

Women have always been influential philanthropists, both on their own and as part of a couple or family. Because women commonly outlive their husbands—women over 65 are three times more likely to be widowed than men of the same age, according to the U.S. Census Bureau—they often are left with ultimate control of family money. As women achieve greater professional and earning parity with men, their power as individual philanthropists also increases.

“Women behave differently from men in their philanthropic giving,” says Debra Mensch, director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. “We cannot assume that what works for men will be applicable to women.”

  • Women focus on particular issues. Studies find that gifts from male/female couples are more likely to support education, health, and religious organizations when the wife is responsible for the decision.
  • Women give more—nearly twice as much—when they give independently from their husbands. They are more likely to give larger amounts to fewer organizations.
  • Women volunteer in greater numbers than men, and they give to organizations with which they have engaged directly.
  • Women give relationally. Women are often drawn to giving structures such as giving circles or other forms of collective giving that allow them to give collaboratively.

Next Generation Donors Have Much to Give

Over the next few decades, The Wall Street Journal estimates that $30 trillion will pass into millennial hands, making these donors (born between 1980 and 1996) a mighty philanthropic force. Although they may not be wealthy now, they are establishing giving habits that will shape the future of U.S. giving.

  • Giving comes naturally. In 2013, according to The 2014 Millennial Impact Report, 83% of millennials gave a financial gift to a philanthropic cause. Millennials are steeped in the Internet and transact much of their business online, including giving.
  • Millennials are eager to see their contributions achieve tangible results. They favor socially conscious, globally minded charities and are concerned with civil rights, responsible business practices, and environmental protection.
  • Millennials have expanded the definition of what it means to be engaged with an organization or a cause. In addition to time, talent, and treasure, they also contribute voice—advocating and educating about causes—and network—capitalizing on personal and professional connections to create change. Like older donors, millennials are more likely to give—and give more—when they are connected to an organization.
  • Millennials use varied strategies, assets, information, and tools to achieve impact. According to 21/64, an initiative focused on next generation donors, “If making an impact requires taking risks on start-up organizations, boundary-blurring hybrids, or nontraditional vehicles, they are prepared to take those risks. If it requires impact investing, microloans, or collaborative giving circles alongside institutional grantmaking, they are ready for that—even excited.”

Communities of Color Give Back—and Forward

Communities of color have intensified their giving in recent years. According to Cultures of Giving, a report by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 63% of Latino households now make charitable donations. Nearly two-thirds of African American households donate to organizations and causes, to the tune of $11 billion each year, giving away a 25% greater share of their income annually than white donors. Asian American households also give away a larger percentage of their income per year than whites.

  • African Americans give more of their discretionary income to charity than any other racial or ethnic group. Women are at the heart of that giving, both in money and time.
  • A new wave of affluent Asian Americans has been exploring institutional philanthropy, a concept that runs counter to the traditional Asian practice of giving directly to family members or local groups or businesses. “Not one Asian language has a word for ‘philanthropy’ in the way that it’s practiced in the United States,” says Peggy Saika, executive director of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy. “We’re trying to build not just the practice of philanthropy in different communities but also the consciousness of it.”
  • Many Latino donors contribute to the communities they have left, greatly enhancing community resources in their hometowns. For example, organized “hometown associations” send more than $9.3 billion each year to support schools, health facilities, and community infrastructure in Mexico.
  • Although Native Americans have the highest poverty rates in the United States (25.7%), they have great potential for philanthropic giving and a long tradition of it, which is only now being recognized. Over the past 20 years, many Native American communities have been forming partnerships with other Native communities and non-Native organizations to achieve self-sufficiency and leverage human and financial capital.

Everyday Givers Have Extraordinary Impact

Most U.S. charitable giving comes from individuals—nearly 72% of all U.S. giving, or more than $241 billion in 2013. Many are everyday givers who give in modest sums by responding to requests, volunteering, writing checks, or clicking “Donate Now.” In 2013 alone, Kickstarter donors pledged $480 million, or three times the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Meanwhile, giving circles and other shared giving vehicles are also growing exponentially, engaging donors in learning and giving journeys. Giving circles were originally seen as appealing particularly to women because they are social and collaborative. They are now recognized as a powerful form of philanthropy for any community of donors, and have grown in popularity within communities of color and other identity-based groups.


  • As you look for collaborators in your funding efforts, how might you appeal to diverse philanthropists?
  • As you consider adding new members to your board and leadership, how can you bring new voices and perspectives to your work?
  • How can you take full advantage of the perspectives and passions of individuals already affiliated with your giving?
  • How might you mentor—and learn from—younger philanthropists?
  • Are there ways to seed the growth of new philanthropy, philanthropy education, or community support for emerging donors in your region?

Keep in mind: The brief snapshots here touch only the tip of the iceberg in understanding and appreciating the rich and varied motivations, strategies, passions, and concerns of these diverse donors.

NamePlace, Marketplace for Municipal Naming Rights and Sponsorships

NamePlace’s new marketplace for municipal naming rights and sponsorships, above.

Yesterday, Tom Foremski wrote about NamePlace — our new marketplace that launched this week, aimed at helping municipalities bring in funds for the city by way of naming rights and sponsorships. From this year’s Quantcast Report “The State of Ad Viewability”:

“In 2012, 1.8 trillion display ads were paid for, but not seen.”

And it’s worse this year. As I mentioned and Tom highlighted in his article:

“Most customers are within a mile or so of their location, so why pay Google, thousands of miles away, or pay for expensive advertising billboards, when you can buy naming rights and be seen to be involved in your community, on a consistent and long-term basis. And the money goes to the city and not to billboard owners or Google shareholders.”

The variety of sponsorship types, primarily offline, is something we help cities, initially and parks and rec departments realize. Some of the obvious long tail opportunities are baseball diamonds, soccer fields and swim centers, these type of community opportunities attract families in a very positive social environment. Many businesses want to be involved in corporate social responsibility programs but don’t know how to proceed. So we also selectively bundle sponsorship opportunities into larger campaigns, driven by timing, region or other relationships, creating attractive and easy ways for advertisers to buy.

You’ll be hearing more about NamePlace in the upcoming weeks and months. Our beta is live and we are bringing cities online as we speak. If your city or organization would like to get involved, please visit and leave your contact information or contact me directly lisa at nameplace dot com.

Advertisers can also contact us at sales at nameplace dot com.

Welcome to town, NamePlace.


Lisa Padilla on Get Nerdy With It by Jennifer Ruggiero

Get Nerdy With ItI did a 2-hour podcast with Jennifer Ruggiero and have a 30-minute clip for you here.

Jennifer is more the friendly voice of Get Nerdy With It but has worked almost exclusively for Sprint since 1998 (respect!). She has a great deal of telecommunications knowledge and a thirst for new and better technologies. She is a regular on Brad Techwebcast, an Australian tech podcast and will soon be joining Lisacast for an in-depth interview.

This clip covers our love of smart phones and habits with them, privacy versus transparency and capital threats, Musicians Guild, a music startup Fred Davis is working with, along with David Brooks, ex-Salesforce AppExchange king (more respect!), and NamePlace, my new startup launching later this year.