History of the Wells Foundation

The Wells Foundation was created in 2001 by Tony and Dana Wells. Our mission statement is to “Create value for the community by developing stronger nonprofit leaders and investing in the next generation of social innovations”. Our original program focus included social entrepreneurship and technology capacity building. In 2007, the foundation continued with social entrepreneurship but shifted our grant making from technology to leadership development. In 2013 the Wells Foundation made the decision to align 100% of its assets with its mission when it made all of its endowment assets available to the community through social impact investing.

What types of nonprofits do you fund?

Over the years, the foundation has worked with a wide variety of nonprofit organizations from the arts to faith based organizations to international clean water. We will work with any nonprofit organization with a great vision to leverage social entrepreneurship to increase operational sustainability. Our personal infinity is working with nonprofits serving adults and children with special needs. Many of our social enterprise investments are driven by our desire to improve the independence and quality of life of children.

When do you accept funding and investment requests?

We accept requests on a rolling basis depending on the needs of the community. To learn more about our impact investing activities, please visit our Impact Investing page.

What is the difference between grants and social impact investing?

Grants and impact investments both share a common goal but they achieve that goal in different ways. The goal is to positively impact the community by addressing a social problem in a significant way. With grant funding, funds are awarded and the only expectation is that the resulting impact is tracked and reported back to the grant maker after particular period of time. An impact investment is different from a traditional grant in that it is expected to be repaid and can take the form of low-interest loans, lines of credits, and even equity.

Do you invest in for-profit social enterprises?

As a foundation, we are able to invest in both for-profit and nonprofit organizations alike, as long as they have a primary purpose of creating significant social impact.

How do I enroll in your Executive Education program?

Public classes occur every other month in Columbus, Ohio. The link to the online application can be found on the course flyer. To download the most recent course flyer, please visit the Leadership Development page and click on the “Course Flyer” link under “Public Classes. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis on a first-come, first-serve basis and classes fill up quickly. Early application is encouraged.

What sort of funding do you provide?

The Wells Foundation provides grant support and social impact investments. Grant funding is awarded on a case by case basis and there is no formal application process. More recently our grant dollars have been invested in capacity building for our social enterprise joint ventures. The Wells Foundation’s social impact investing support can take many forms such as low-interest loans, lines of credits, and even equity. Sometimes this support is available even when traditional lenders are unable to provide it.

Can I meet with you to discuss an idea or do I need a completed business plan first?

We enjoy helping people think through innovative, unique, challenging, and opportunistic situations. Sometimes it is helpful to talk through various options or brainstorm possible solutions with a third party. We recognize the value of feedback and regularly meet with people about their ideas, some of which are on the back of a napkin while others are written out in a completed business plan.

  • Always Innovate
  • Think Entrepreneurially
  • Serve Our Community