Why create Epic?

In 2014, Alexandre Mars set up Epic, which selects and funds organisations that fight childhood and youth inequality in areas such as education, health, safety and social and professional reinsertion. Here he explains how and why he created the non-profit organisation.

| 5 min read

I began my career as an entrepreneur at the age of seventeen. After fifteen years of tireless work launching and developing successful startups, I went on to sell two of my companies to Publicis and BlackBerry. Nevertheless, creating tech ventures was never my end goal. These sales gave me the financial security to fuel the much larger social ambitions I had harboured since my youth: to be of use to society. My desire and commitment to help others who are less fortunate is a vision that I’ve always carried with me.

That’s why I decided to leverage my entrepreneurial skills, network, knowledge, wealth, and influence to scale my impact and contribute to a more just and fair society.

To foster that mission, I first created Epic in 2014, a global foundation that exists to empower and protect children, youth and our planet. Epic’s mission is to bridge the gap between nonprofits forging solutions to today’s pressing challenges, and individuals and businesses who want to drive positive change. In 2019, the Harvard

Kennedy School published a case study on Epic, highlighting its innovative new model for social impact. As a firm believer that the private sector also has a crucial role in making our society more just and sustainable, I founded blisce/, a leading B corp-certified transatlantic investment firm committed to investing differently and reconciling economic, social, and environmental performance.

Since its inception, blisce/ has invested in companies such as Spotify, Pinterest, Headspace, and Too Good To Go. In addition, I recently launched a social EdTech, called INFI ITE, which helps students from underprivileged backgrounds gain access to the world’s best universities.

What makes Epic unique?

Inspired by the private equity and venture capital approach, Epic acts as a 100% philanthropic VC. We raise funds from our community of donors and provide financial support in the form of donations to mid-sized nonprofits that have a proven impact. Our goal is to transform every donation into catalytic funding for game-changing nonprofits to grow
their impact and create systemic change. We curate two portfolios with a shared goal of transforming the lives of millions of people: Children & Youth – Climate & Environment.

Our goal is to foster lasting change for children, youth and our planet. We want to move the needle, positively changing the way philanthropy currently operates.

Epic’s framework of selection and monitoring is central to our work with donors and nonprofits. Based on a 15-criteria framework and 3 major pillars of analysis (Impact - Operations - Leadership), it enables us to carry out an in-depth 360° understanding of the organizations we vet, as well as define monitoring indicators we will follow once an organization joins the portfolio.

Our goal is to foster lasting change for children, youth and our planet. We want to move the needle, positively changing the way philanthropy currently operates. We act as a pro-bono “FaaS”, 100% free “Foundation As A Service” which reinforces our trust and transparency model: 100% of donations we receive go to the nonprofits in our portfolios and 100% of operational expenses are covered by our boards.

Epic in 2023

  • 22 NGOs supported
  • 4 continents
  • 9 areas of expertise

Epic’s rigorous selection process builds trust among our donors. We choose high-impact nonprofits through a sophisticated methodology, including due-diligence, leveraging expert networks, and on-the-ground analysis. We ensure the strength of the organizations we fund by conducting a 360° review which covers three focus areas: impact, operations, and leadership. Our goal is to address the root causes of inequity and create systemic change.

In this way, Epic creates a virtuous circle, backing nonprofits and reporting back to donors through data collection and transparent monitoring. By doing so, we foster a high-level of trust and a reliable system of catalytic unrestricted funding – still rare in the philanthropic sector.

We believe in creating impact by investing in nonprofits that can deliver life changing programs in the field, and conduct thorough impact studies to create sustainable change, by influencing lawmakers and changing mindsets.

Epic helps provide philanthropists with better ways to give

Epic pools the resources of diverse donors – individuals and families, entrepreneurs, corporates, funds and financial institutions etc., – who want to invest strategically in social impact and the environment. Epic is a one-stop shop for philanthropic giving. We offer our individual and corporate donors a menu of innovative ‘giving solutions’. There are various mechanisms to promote giving which can be tailored to any corporate model:

  • Epic Pledge for entrepreneurs, funds and private equity: they commit to give back a percentage of their profits or shares.
  • Epic Give for corporates: via payroll giving.
  • Giving Lab: by involving employees to brainstorm innovative ways of fundraising.

Since Epic started, they have mobilised $72 million and supported 53 organisations worldwide. Find out more about the Epic Foundation.

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