Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Gates Investments - redux

Allison Fine has a good summary and reaction to the news that the Gates Foundation isn't going to change its investment review (or investments) after all. Check it out at her well-named blog, A. Fine Blog.

My thoughts? Here, from my comment on Allison's...

The heart of the issue - how do you change philanthropy? This is THE question I've wrestled with throughout my professional career. Step one - we need to support the media - all of us, not just the LA Times, but bloggers, alt papers, TV, social entrepreneurs, virtual world social activists, philanthropic advisors and professional pundits- to keep the attention on this issue.

Two - we should all look into efforts underway that would align the governance of nonprofit organizations with some of the principles of social responsibility - expanding the definitions and requirements of fiscal oversight.

Three - positive examples of how investors can meet their goals, both their fiscal and mission targets, need to be shared widely.

Four, and the one I always mention reluctantly AND with the caveat that history shows its the one that works - change the regulations. Philanthropy in the US is a publicly-regulated industry. Five, open the doors to the change that can come from innovations in - and on the edges - of that industry. (Larry Lessig has a wonderful article in WIRED on how this is playing out in the Microsoft monopoly/Google/Linux/web2.0 world).

Other ideas - how can we improve philanthropy? The whole, not the little pieces, but the role of the citizen sector in our globally connected world with its diverse and rapidly changing cultural and social expectations of public/private responsibilities?


Unknown said...

This is the same point that nonprofit social entrepreneurs have been wrestling with for years. Foundations spend 95% of their money to make money, and 5% to do social good.
Why not evolve a strategy of investment for ALL of that money that generates both financial and a social return?

Unknown said...

And that makes it hard for me to vote in this poll. None of the categories clearly express the point of view of generating both financial and social return.