PART THREE OF A THREE-PART SERIES
15 January 2021
As these special magazine editions have shown, the answers to “What type of society do we want to build?” are many and various. Each contributor has different goals and priorities, and each article employs deep expertise to explain what we need to achieve. This represents the reality of our current situation. We live in societies where, unfortunately, there are numerous issues to address.
We need a network of passionate advocates to bring about change in specific areas where they have deep insight. This ‘ecoystem’ approach has a far better chance of finding Lasting success than trying to decide whose vision of society takes ultimate precedence.
The complex answer may put some people off. With multiple viewpoints and no single, harmonised objective, we can all too easily freeze into inactivity. This, however, would be entirely the wrong response; instead we should look at the common tools available to build this thriving ecosystem.
First, we need to look at the most effective ways of bringing money into the philanthropy sector; without catalytic, risk-taking capital, it will be far harder to bring about change. Professional advisors play an important role. Advisors trained in discussing philanthropy have clients who give 17 times more than if there were no discussion. Philanthropists are usually keen to unlock additional funding, and if they are looking for one of the most effective leverage points, they should seek out organisations that help build this kind of advisor training.
We also need to look at really harnessing the potential of impact investing. No matter what kind of society we are trying to build, we are going to be hamstrung
if, within charitable vehicles, we keep on investing into instruments that are causing large amounts of damage. In the worst-case scenario, a foundation with a large investment portfolio could outweigh the good done through their grant giving with the damage done by their investments. However, it’s not just about avoiding harm; we can do far better than that.
Standard practice needs to shift in the direction of ‘total portfolio impact’, where both investments and grant giving are making an intentional positive impact. As investment portfolios train their sights on solving some of the world’s most pressing problems, a lot more capital is being brought to assist this systemic change.
Finally, we need to bring in the organisations that fund the foundations. The move from looking at grants alone to looking at vehicle-level impact is part of a broader
shift to better understanding of the financial supply chain.
Purposeful businesses play a huge part in this. Firms with a measurable purpose, who are looking to contribute positively to the way society operates, are a very powerful force. Once we have a situation where all the resources at our disposal are set up to address, and solve, the big challenges, we will have mobilised far greater levels of capital and influence. With the entire financial supply chain directed towards change, we can make sure that individual areas of specialism receive
the funding and support they so clearly need. Unlocking philanthropic capital, harnessing investment pools and championing purposeful businesses are the tools, available to all, that can build a better society.