What is Bastion?
Bastion began as a private initiative to structure and optimize individual philanthropy. Word spread, and soon family and friends, and friends of friends showed an interest in accessing a similar service. That is how we came up with the idea of registering as a nonprofit to offer our service to other philanthropists. Bastion was formally registered as a corporation in Miami, Florida in March 2019, but has been operating since January 2016. Our team works remotely from Washington DC, New York City, Miami and The Netherlands.
Bastion’s aim is to make it easy for individual philanthropists to invest in reliable projects run by trustworthy nonprofits with the reassurance that Bastion will be looking after their investment.
Why do you talk about investments instead of donations?
Bastion works on the premise that supporting social projects is an investment in the future of the communities and society as a whole.
The return of your investment is the productive future these communities will enjoy as a result of the access to education we promote.
What does Bastion do?
Our mission is to provide comprehensive support to education in Latin America.
We believe that for a child to be able to study, there needs to be a number of favorable conditions that make this possible. Schools and teachers are needed, but the child also needs to be healthy and live in a nurturing environment, with an empowered family and access to transportation.
We accomplish this mission in two ways:
- Connecting individual philanthropists with the right nonprofits. This involves:
- Building a portfolio of worthy nonprofits, by selecting and vetting local organizations working in areas that promote a suitable environment for learning.
- Partnering with the local nonprofits to design necessary and relevant projects with achievable outcomes and meaningful KPIs.
- Offering our portfolio to investors, so they can choose the projects that resonate with their values and interests.
- Making sure the projects accomplish the designed outcomes.
- Keeping the investors informed about the progress of the project they chose.
- Supporting local nonprofits in their own processes. This involves:
- Working with their team to define their needs.
- Offering managerial support and training.
What services do you offer?
To investors, we offer a hassle-free no-fee opportunity to support worthy projects that improve the lives of people. This means:
- Offering a portfolio of vetted organizations with relevant projects, so they can choose the ones that speak to their values and interests.
- Taking care of the administrative process of the investment so that the investor can focus solely on the transfer of funds.
- Working closely with a local partner to generate periodic reports for the investor.
- Commissioning independent reports on the projects to make sure we maintain the highest standards of accountability.
To nonprofits, we offer the opportunity to increase their funding and support to strengthen their processes.
If you don’t charge any fees, how do you fund your operations?
Bastion does not charge any administrative fees to the investors or the nonprofits.
The funds to cover Bastion’s operations come from donations from the founders, who believe that by funding Bastion’s operations they are increasing their impact.
Is Bastion as 501c3 charity (registration in the US that allows for tax-deductible donations)?
Bastion was registered in March 2019 and received the determination of tax-exempt status in November 2019.
Why would I donate to Bastion?
You do not donate to Bastion.
When you invest in one of Bastion’s approved projects you send the funds directly to the local nonprofit organization. The money does not go through Bastion, so you can be sure that every cent you invest reaches the nonprofit you selected.
You will always be able to deduct your donation from your U.S. taxes because all our local partners are registered as a charity in the U.S. or they work with a fiscal sponsor in the US.
How much can I invest?
Every amount helps. And we can help you make the most of any amount you want to invest.
For Bastion to be efficient in its operations we prefer to work with investments of $5,000 or higher.
If you wish to invest a smaller amount, we can help you find the right project and the best way of getting the funds to the nonprofit, but we will not be able to offer you the full extent of our customized services, including periodic reporting and long term follow up.
In any case, no matter the amount you wish to invest, we can discuss the available options.
What does Bastion do with the funds I invest?
Bastion does not have access to your investment.
When we arrange for your investment to fund the project you selected, you transfer the funds directly to the local organization.
Later, we keep you informed about the progress of the project and make sure that your investment is achieving the expected outcome.
Why should I invest with you rather than directly with the nonprofit?
Our objective is to help you find the right project and remove the hassle of the process while making sure that your funds are used as intended.
Even if you use our services, you are always investing directly in the nonprofit of your choice. If you prefer, you can always support the nonprofit without taking advantage of our free and customized services.
We are happy to provide you with all the information you need, and by doing so, we are already accomplishing our mission by helping the local nonprofit obtain the funding it needs.
How can you know the funds will be used correctly?
We work directly with the nonprofit on-site to monitor the progress of the project and evaluate the results.
We also commission independent monitoring and reporting through visits to the project sites and interviews with local staff and recipients. These reports are shared with the local partners to make the necessary adjustments.
How do you select the local organizations?
Our team is always on the lookout for worthy organizations.
We might know some of them personally from past experiences.
Others may have been referred to us by other organizations or investors who heard about them. Or they may have been mentioned in the news or the newsletters we read.
It is just a matter of being aware of our investors’ needs and doing the relevant research.
How do you know the local nonprofits are good organizations?
We vet the organizations before partnering with them using a rigorous process we developed based on our experience.
Before we contact them, we research everything we can about the organization, their projects, their beneficiaries, and volunteers.
We analyze their financial reports and tax filings. We then contact and interview the members of the organization. If possible, we obtain first-hand impressions from the site and their beneficiaries.
How do you make sure the nonprofit monitors and evaluates the results?
We work directly with our local partners to implement monitoring and evaluation processes and reporting.
Can I do something else instead of investing money?
Yes, tell us what you would like to do. We have a professional volunteer initiative where you can help us in our work with the local nonprofits or help a nonprofit directly. It all depends on your skillset.
Can I become involved with the project I am funding?
Absolutely. Tell us what project you want to support and in what capacity you want to get involved.
Who is Bastion?
Bastion is the initiative of Manuel Contreras Pietri and Rebeca Godoy. They had been investing in social causes for a few years when they realized they needed to have a more structured process with coherent selection criteria and defined monitoring requirements. At the time, Cecilia Neher worked in Manuel’s engineering firm and helped develop the basis of what Bastion is today.
Cecilia is a communications professional with an MBA and experience in both corporate and nonprofit environments in Latin America, the USA, and Europe.
In 2019, Natalia Araujo joined the team. Natalia is a mechanical engineer and expert in process design with experience also in corporations like Pepsi Co and nonprofits like UNICEF.
Cecilia and Natalia are Bastion’s executive team.
Manuel, a civil engineer and consultant, is the Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Rebeca, a senior economist at The World Bank, sits at the Board together with Eli Bravo, a communications graduate, author, speaker, and mindfulness therapist.