Blog: Amplify

The Convergence of Capitalism and Philanthropy

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?

Mixing capitalism with philanthropy? What a concept! This exploding trend further validates what we are doing at Benefunder -- combining the nonprofit and for profit worlds for the greater good, and providing philanthropists with a smarter and more meaningful way to give. As a hybrid organization -- part tech start-up, part foundation -- these are exactly the principles we live by. I even wrote a recent OpEd in the San Diego Business Journal about the need for this hybrid model.

Apparently I wasn't the only one who was surprised to find a like-minded group during the Council conference. The impact investing portion of the meetings were all standing room only. I had the pleasure of hearing about how the Kaufmann Foundation (and others) had invested in startups like AngelList, how the Richmond Foundation had floated a social impact bond to fix their dilapidated neighborhoods, and the difference between mission- and program-related investments.

Imagine using a tested and true institution (capitalism) that made this country great, for social good? This is exactly what's happening now and many foundations are jumping into the game.

What does it all mean? Priorities are shifting, social good is being rewarded, financial disruption is happening, and ultimately, the public's voice is being heard. Now imagine what this trend will mean for innovation, the primary driver in our economy going forward?

Envision Benefunder syndicating venture philanthropy deals with wealth management firms to push promising new translational research to market. Now that's high-impact philanthropy!

About Benefunder:

Benefunder is a unique hybrid organization -- part foundation and part tech startup -- that has created a new funding channel for research and innovation while providing philanthropists with a smarter and more meaningful way to give. Through our Charitable Innovation Fund, we connect donors with the nation’s top researchers across all fields of study, including life sciences, new technologies, the environment and the arts and humanities. Benefunder has the largest active researcher portal in the United States, with more than 600 top researchers who are working on breakthrough treatments and solutions that will greatly impact and benefit society. More information at Watch the Benefunder video here.

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