Why Investing In Communities Matters

Investing in your community matters. For me, that's investing in the LGBT community.

From a business perspective, investing in your community, alongside others in your community, makes everyone care more and help more. Given that early-stage businesses are fundamentally amalgamations of talent, opportunity size, and luck, the impact of this -- from boards, to advisers, to business development -- is more powerful than can be easily measured.

From a triple bottom line perspective, investing in your community, alongside others in your community, makes you feel part of something greater than simply securing profits. Profits are critical, and the business case comes first in investing, but it does not have to be the only thing.
I first learned about investing in communities through Golden Seeds. Golden Seeds invests in female founders -- a community of which I am not a part -- and I was drawn to, and impressed by, the commitments of members to helping Golden Seeds companies. It went far and beyond the call of duty, and extended to members choosing to actively help companies that were not even in their personal portfolios.

As I have grown Gaingels, which invests in the LGBT community, these early lessons from Golden Seeds have proven correct -- and the key driver of our success to date. Our members -- regardless of where they live, whether they directly invested in the company in question, whether they are interested in what the company does, regardless of a dozen other questions -- unfailingly respond to requests to meet, assist, and mentor entrepreneurs in the portfolio. It is an experience profoundly different from sector-focused and region-focused groups, which are convenient to create but don't share that same community-assistance bond.

I also learned that motivated communities come in many forms. Golden Seeds and Gaingels are both highly motivated, identity-driven communities. Blue Jay, Red Bear Angels, and HBS Angels are alumni-driven communities -- a vastly different driver but an equally motivating one. Digital Irish Angels is driven by nationality -- yet another very different but highly motivating community barometer.

All of this points to two key personal takeaways from my experience with affinity and community investing. It matters, from both value-add-to-business and triple bottom line perspectives. And it can be applied to many different communities that share common bonds.