Emerging philanthropic capital markets 2.0


Three years ago I published Creating Philanthropic Capital Markets: The Deliberate Evolution. Among other things, the book points out the role that knowledge sharing, efficient exchange mechanisms, and external awareness play in high-functioning markets. Specifically, the book outlines nine key industry elements, a set greatly informed by Michael Porter's work on strategy. I provided examples of philanthropy's industry elements that existed in 2004 and identified key gaps. (Bernholz, p. 49)

The elements are:

  • Firms
  • Research organizations, data sources
  • Industry associations, government relations
  • Regulatory bodies
  • Media/press
  • Professional training and standards
  • Credentialing or monitoring of practices
  • Independent analysts and information brokers
  • Rating organizations/metrics
Needless to say, there has been an explosion of activity since 2004 and major funders like the Hewlett Foundation, Gates, Robert Wood Johnson, and Milken Institute have begun to take notice.
  • As for dedicated media, several magazines focused on philanthropy launched since 2004, including GOOD, Benefit, and Contribute. We also have more than our share of blogs and online newsletters on philanthropy.
  • Although professional standards for grantmaking don't exist, the fund raising side has credentials and ethics standards and financial planners can now get certified to guide philanthropy decision-making. There are registers of philanthropy consultants, self-organized consultant associations, and a planning effort underway in the UK to consider registering charity advisers.
  • There are other forms of information in development also - the University of Pennsylvania's new Center on High Impact Philanthropy is developing a metric for philanthropy called "cost of benefit." FasterCures, an initiative of the Center for Accelerating Medical Solutions, is rolling out a philanthropy advisory service to get top quality research to individual donors interested in disease research. The goal - align philanthropy dollars behind "best in class" options.
Philanthropy as a whole has changed dramatically since 2004. Of particular note is the confluence with social enterprise, social investing, and new financial vehicles. Tools such as xigi show this happening in real time, and the creation of the B Corporation is a shot right at the sweet spot of a whole new way of thinking about the market.

There are still important gaps. I'm working on filling some of them with a new venture, so I won't say anymore here (yet). Needless to say, at the very least it seems to be time for a new book.

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