Saturday, January 20, 2007

New philanthropists and social investing

Just in case you are wondering, I do have other things on my mind besides social investing. But the papers and the blogs are focusing on it so I'll keep on keepin' on. This is from tomorrow's LA Times Magazine story on the Omidyar and Skoll foundations. The story is called "Networked Philanthropy" and was written by Douglas McGray.

"Participant's for-profit activism has begun to influence Skoll's nonprofit ventures. Skoll Foundation staff members have started to look at potential grantees as a movie producer might, evaluating their work as narratives, to figure out which approaches to social change might inspire public interest. Participant has also helped shift the culture at Capricorn Management, the firm that invests Skoll's personal billions and his foundation's endowment. "We're thinking about ways to align our investments with those of the foundation or Participant as well as to avoid any direct misalignment," says Stephen George, Capricorn's chief investment officer. The trick, George says, is to invest in a sector's best companies rather than blacklist entire industries. "Toyota over Ford," he says.

He defends the strategy as more than just feel-good investing. "We believe these kinds of companies will be more valuable over time." Capricorn has also started investing in progressive funds—one focuses on clean energy, another on microenterprise—and George believes it can do more without jeopardizing returns."

Couple of related thoughts.
  1. Good for the LA Times. Even while its future ownership is being debated, and major philanthropists are involved in that angle as well, the paper has been running some great stuff on philanthropy. Who said newspapers were dead? Maybe they're just becoming philanthropic....(All roads lead is all a system...see point #2 below)
  2. I'm going to get back to the issue of social entrepreneurism as it relates to foundation investment policies. Gimme a sec.
  3. I also will loop back around to another topic on this blog that got a lot of reaction - philanthropy, blogs, and virtual worlds.

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