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The New Family Philanthropy: Investing for Social and Environmental Change
The impact investing marketplace is gaining traction—investment vehicles now span asset classes, infrastructural improvements are enhancing transparency and investor confidence, and social enterprise is maturing with a new generation of entrepreneurs. On the investor side, industry growth is being driven by large institutional investors such as public sector pension funds, banks, and private foundations. Today, we are also seeing a growing movement by families who seek to realize their core values, and effect societal change, through their family assets. This paper focuses on family investing through family offices and foundations. Data was compiled from 17 research interviews in August of 2012 with trustees and staff of family foundations and offices as well as investment advisors and consultants. The authors acknowledge that the data from this study comes from a relatively small sample size of qualitative research interviewees. The paper communicates themes heard through research interviews, and does not intend to make definitive claims based on quantitative data. Interviews centered on the following topics: (1) the current perception of impact investing among those affiliated with family foundations and offices, (2) the factors that families and advisors consider when deciding whether or not to invest for impact, with specific attention to the asset class of impact-oriented venture capital (Impact VC), and (3) the distinct characteristics of Impact VC for family foundations and family offices that are complementary. The paper concludes with thoughts on strategies for the continued growth of impact investing among families.
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