All Things Impact.

private capital & the public good

All Things Impact: week #2

Brian WalshComment

Hi friends,

Thanks for the great feedback to the first edition of All Things Impact, a weekly newsletter featuring insights from across the spectrum of impact: effective philanthropyimpact investing (in the private markets), responsible investing (in the public markets) and a wildcard topic. Please continue to share your thoughts and your content suggestions.

Here are this week’s four links worth your time:
1. Effective Philanthropy: Is David Geffen's $100 million gift to UCLA bad philanthropy?  
Music mogul David Geffen is giving $100 million to UCLA to set up a private middle and high school on its campus. Dylan Matthews of Vox is not impressed: “This gift is actually worse than no charity. No charity at least doesn't actively undermine the LA public school system by encouraging affluent parents to defect from it — in particular affluent parents who are already being specially induced to put their kids in public school. Geffen is actively making education in Los Angeles worse because he wants the medical school named after him to rise in the US News rankings. It's indefensible.”
2. Impact Investing: Do “Social Impact Bonds” still have promise?
After recent controversy over two of the earliest pay for success contracts (also known as "Social Impact Bonds" or SIBs) in New York and Utah, Duke University’s Kenneth Dodge argues in NYT’s DealBook that the model is still promising and that “We should celebrate rather than castigate Utah’s pioneers…With any innovation, early steps often seem crude and inexact… The Utah case is a step in the right direction because it shines light on outcomes rather than merely documenting implementation.”
3. Responsible Investing: Are divestment campaigns effective? 
Let’s say you’re concerned about climate change. Does divesting from companies that produce fossil fuels help advance your goals? Or should you try to use your influence as a shareholder to engage the management of fossil fuel companies to change their behavior? As one investment manager puts it, “the divestment campaign makes more people aware of the problem but it doesn’t solve the issue. It merely passes it on to the next owner.” An article from the Economist explores the range of approaches by capital owners and managers to wrestle with this issue. “The real aim,” says an official with, “is to deny energy companies the political, social and cultural backing to influence decisions on climate change.”
4. Wildcard: The Bill Simmons interview with President Obama is your long-form must-read of the week
In the GQ article, Obama comes to realize the limitations of presidential power, and that the main requirement of his job is to persuade: “You can’t separate good policy from the need to bring the American people along and make sure that they know why you’re doing what you’re doing…A lot of the work is not just identifying the right policy but now constantly building these ever shifting coalitions to be able to actually implement and execute and get it done.”
That's it for this week! Please send me any compelling links you discover in your own journeys across the web (even things like this photo of an elephant sitting on a car.) 

Until next week!

Brian Walsh
Head of Impact at Liquidnet. Full bio