Monday, December 15, 2008

Big (?) Ideas

Several groups from several sectors have met in the last month+ to discuss ways to improve philanthropy and social investing on a global scale. In no particular order, and with no authority other than my own, here are some of the ideas I know of that are being discussed:*
  • New global information architecture for sharing and tracking data on revenue and capital for public benefit enterprise;
  • Ways to expand and connect existing social investment exchanges to work globally;
  • Social sector leadership in catalyzing new ethics for global finance;
  • Support for existing and emergent global networks on food, water, and climate change;
  • Creation of new kinds of deal brokers for social investing (private money for public good);
  • Creation of new intermediary organizations that can raise significant new capital for public good efforts;
  • Connecting sector analysts and ratings organizations from different nations to compare methodologies and ...
  • Cataloguing national legal and regulatory structures for giving, social investing, and community social organization, and a possible inquiry into developing new, global, enabling environments that would expand the resources available for and the reach of civil society;
  • Better metrics for social returns and financial returns that account for the full social impact of the enterprise;
  • Better manage and disseminate knowledge (who are the players? what approachesare working? what is needed?);
  • Offer technical assistance and skills training;
  • Identify and aggregate the best “deals”, connecting those investment opportunities with the most appropriate investors and capital providers;
  • Greater attention to the opinions and feedback from the intended beneficiaries of social investments and philanthropic gifts;
  • Advocate for increased spending from existing philanthropic endowments;
  • Advocacy for better understanding of and easier mechanisms for the expansion of "investment capital" (equity and debt) for nonprofit and social enterprises;
What do you think of these ideas? Are they on the right track? What is missing? What would you suggest to improve giving, philanthropy, social investing, and private/public support and investment in public benefit organizations?

*I participated directly in many of these discussions, and have read reports from and talked with participants in others. I am solely responsible for having assembled this list. This list does not infer or imply or require that any of these ideas will be pursued by any of the gatherings or players at those meetings that generated items on the list. Appearing on the list simply means the idea was discussed, and may or may not reflect my support for the idea.


Anonymous said...

"Greater attention to the opinions and feedback from the intended beneficiaries of social investments and philanthropic gifts..." - IMO, this should be one of the first areas the sector explores in more detail. Before we make critical investments in investment infrastructure, information sharing architectures, clearinghouses, etc., shouldn't we have more qualitative research done as to the effects of new investment styles on intended beneficiaries? These effects surely have implications for how this philanthropic infrastructure is built such that it maximizes social impact and minimizes any unintended consequences. Are you aware of any studies that speak to the impacts of new philanthropy/social investment styles on intended beneficiaries?

Anonymous said...


Our organization puts out a great publication (Index of Global Philanthropy) yearly looking at the effects of global philanthropy. We discuss general trends in global giving and remittances. If you are interested you can download it free at our website:
We actually highlight success projects in developing countries which you may find interesting, especially our reporting on public-private partnerships.