There has been a lot of chatter about the Peter Buffett opinion piece in the New York Times this week. As son of Warren Buffett he indeed has a unique perspective on what he’s labeled the “Charitable Industrial Complex.”
The younger Buffett sees what we have been tracking at Giving Strong, Inc.: a trend of donations that are well meaning but that don’t really move the needle socially. The trend toward giving back has led to a proliferation of non profits competing for limited dollars – an emphasis on the more hands-off-but-it- still-feels-good-to-give kind of “checkbook charity.”
Here’s another idea. Impact investing. It requires collaboration, structure, patience and creativity to evolve a “donor” into a “doer.” The Social Impact Exchange just profiled seven exciting new initiatives designed to move the needle. At the top is the Healthy Futures $100 Million Investment Fund – a collaboration led by Morgan Stanley, The Kresge Foundation and LISC to build affordable housing with integrated health services in low income neighborhoods.
For those wealth managers and financial planners who feel threatened by their clients’ philanthropic inclinations (more than one has told us: “when clients give that money away to causes, they take away from the firm’s assets under management,” or “we see community foundations as competition”) we encourage you to take a fresh look at Impact Investing where they have a creative vehicle that provides a meaningful way to “give back” while still managing those assets under the financial firm’s umbrella.