RE: Philanthropy Blog

John Cochrane

Can business acumen help overcome social challenges? Can entrepreneurial zeal generate innovative solutions? Can the energy of a new generation be harnessed to lead us forward on pressing causes? These were some of the questions addressed at the 2015 Social Innovation Summit.

Will Heaton

In late May I attended a meeting in Atlanta focused on impact investing hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Southeastern Council of Foundations (SECF) and the Council on Foundations (Council) about impact investing. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s collaboration with the philanthropic sector is a great example of the value of public philanthropic partnership. Impact Investing is quite familiar to many in philanthropy, but the number of entities actually practicing impact investing is much smaller. Fortunately, that is starting to change. Education and awareness building efforts such as this gathering in Atlanta are important for several reasons.

While the globalization of markets has dispersed investments around the world, we’ve hatched a plan to bring capital back to our communities in a transparent, coordinated, and collaborative way. I’m excited to announce Canopy, an innovative, member-owned, for-benefit company designed to advance regional investing—at scale.

The Social Impact Exchange exists to build a growth capital marketplace that supports scaling high-impact nonprofits in the U.S. Funders with shared interests convene in working groups (currently active in health and education) to identify and vet highly effective nonprofit initiatives primed for scale using a thorough due diligence process.

At the Council on Foundations Annual Conference in San Francisco, there was enormous interest in how foundations can lead together by aligning all of their assets with their missions. However there is one investment nearly every foundation makes, but which many fail to properly evaluate.

While attending the Council on Foundations annual meeting in San Francisco last week, I learned about exciting new trends in philanthropy. The theme that really stood out was the graying lines of business, investing, and philanthropy. For profit companies are being founded with the specific purpose of creating social good. Venture capitalists are measuring a startup's social impact as value, and everyday investors are favoring social responsibility over financial returns. Was this a parallel universe or did I miss something in business school?

Council on Foundations Q&A with Ann Sewill, Vice President of Housing & Economic Development, California Community Foundation

John Cochrane

What does revolutionary change look like? That question was at the heart of Confluence Philanthropy’s 2015 Practitioners’ Gathering. In the world of investment advisors and Wall Street finance, a revolution can start with two words: “Sell it.”

Economic development is at the center of the Maine Community Foundation’s strategic priorities. We believe greater access to lower cost capital will allow entrepreneurs and innovators from both the nonprofit and for-profit world to grow enterprises and expand projects that build off our natural assets, revitalize our downtowns, and strengthen our economy.

Last week more than 200 foundation leaders, policymakers, academics, entrepreneurs, and experts came together at George Washington University (GWU) for an invitation-only gathering to advance the development of what many call the “fourth sector”—for-benefit organizations that primarily pursue social or environmental aims, while raising a substantial proportion of their revenue through earned income or commercial activities. The Federal Reserve Board, the University’s Trachtenberg School of Public Policy, the Urban Institute, and The B Team convened the event.