Welcome to All Things Impact, a newsletter of interesting things I've seen from across the spectrum of impact: responsible investing (in the public markets), impact investing (in the private markets), effective philanthropy, and a wildcard topic. For previous posts, to subscribe, and for more information, please visit All Things Impact.
Here are four links worth your time (plus items of note, job postings, and a calendar of upcoming events):
1. Responsible Investing: only 1 in 10 funds in the US have female managers
According to a new research examining more than 26,000 asset management funds across 56 countries by data provider Morningstar, the number of women running investment funds globally has not increased since the financial crisis despite a number of high-profile campaigns to correct female under-representation in the asset management market. As the Financial Times reports:
“In June a group of Europe’s largest asset managers…joined forces in an attempt to address accusations that the asset management market is an old boys’ club that promotes and protects the interests of white, middle-aged men.
Almost 30 companies and industry organisations signed up to the campaign, called The Diversity Project, to try to ensure diverse recruitment across the industry in terms of gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background, age, sexual orientation and disability…
“Beyond entry level, I also see women becoming disillusioned as they still feel the industry is very male-dominated and therefore it can feel less culturally welcoming.”
…companies were often unable to retain female employees after hiring them. “Hiring is an important element of diversity and most firms do well at the graduate intake level. The greatest issue is retention,” she said.
2. Impact Investing: unleashing more capital for creativity
The New York Times reports on the new investment product conceived by Upstart Co-Lab & the Calvert Foundationthat allows investors to make a financial return while providing capital for artists and creative place-making efforts.
“There are artists working on all the important social issues,” said Laura Callanan, the founding partner of Upstart Co-Lab. “Some of those artists are starting social purpose businesses and, like any entrepreneur, they need capital. One of our goals is to unleash more capital for creativity.”
…The Calvert Foundation has set returns for its Community Investment Note ranging from 1 to 4 percent, depending on the length of the investment. The note has made $1.5 billion in impact investments in affordable housing, education and small business over the last 20 years, with a 100 percent return of principal and interest.
Jennifer Pryce, president and chief executive of the Calvert Foundation, said that when Calvert was approached by Upstart Co-Lab, it analyzed its own $300 million portfolio and found that it already had $20 million in investments going to creative endeavors.
“We had never looked at our investment portfolio in terms of groups directing their investment to arts or creative place making,” she said. “It was revealing to me that this has been part of my portfolio implicitly for years. These were groups we had lent to and been repaid.”
…[Investor Lorrie] Meyercord said that she wanted to bring other investors along.
“My hope is to let people see what’s happening out there in terms of investments and to be inspired,” she said. “Most people invest their money and give it off to someone else, and they hope to get a lot back. They’re not expecting to be totally inspired by what they’re investing in.”
3. Effective Philanthropy: Moving from “Build It & They Will Come” to Selling Social Change
Taz Hussein & Matt Plummer write in the Stanford Social Innovation Review about a “a little-discussed issue that affects a wide range of innovative social programs. Just because there’s a clear need doesn’t mean there’s demand. We call this the “need-equals-demand” fallacy. And it’s widely felt.”
“Lack of demand is a particularly vexing issue for those organizations eager to achieve transformative scale—that is, to advance from incremental growth to a scale of intervention that can actually solve a social problem. Rigorously evaluated evidence-based practices and programs alone cannot trump beneficiaries’ lack of awareness or interest. Scale requires more than a program that achieves intended outcomes. Nonprofits and funders that aspire to achieve breakthrough results need to reject the notion that need equals demand. Rather, they must be prepared to actively generate demand for social change. Nonprofits must learn some of the same demand-generation techniques that for-profits have been honing for decades.
Learning how to generate demand won’t come easily. Most nonprofits and funders optimistically operate on a widely held assumption about their services: build it and they will come. Often, however, they don’t—at least not in sufficient numbers. Demand often falls short of expectations. So what does it take to close the gap?
…Nonprofit organizations need to start by recognizing that innovative social programs don’t simply sell themselves. Getting a new idea adopted, even when it has proved to be effective, is often very difficult, but not impossible. There are three critical steps nonprofits need to take when creating and implementing solutions. In the sections that follow, each of these three steps will be explored in detail.
- Recognize the limits of designing a service or program primarily for effectiveness and also design for “spreadability.”
- Go beyond identifying a broad group of potential beneficiaries and focus first on a subgroup most likely to participate.
- Develop and resource a sales and marketing capability from the outset, right alongside budgeting for program delivery.
4. Wildcard: the Case for Normalizing Trump
Matthew Yglesias writes in Vox that “even when clear evidence of corruption emerges once an authoritarian populist regime is in place, the regime’s key supporters are generally unimpressed.” He thinks it’s too late to focus on Trump’s character – “[as Luigi] Zingales writes, opposition that’s grounded in Trump’s norm-violating personal behavior risks “crown[ing] Mr. Trump as the people’s leader of the fight against the Washington caste.”
“Normalization, in this context, is typically cast as a form of complicity with Trump in which the highest possible premium is placed on maintaining a rigid state of alert and warning people that he is not just another politician whom you may or may not agree with on the issues.
But several students of authoritarian populist movements abroad have a different message. To beat Trump, what his opponents need to do is practice ordinary humdrum politics. Populists in office thrive on a circus-like atmosphere that casts the populist leader as persecuted by media and political elites who are obsessed with his uncouth behavior while he is busy doing the people’s work. To beat Trump, progressives will need to do as much as they can to get American politics out of reality show mode.
Trump genuinely does pose threats to the integrity of American institutions and political norms. But he does so largely because his nascent administration is sustained by support from the institutional Republican Party and its standard business and interest group supporters. Alongside the wacky tweets and personal feuds, Trump is pursuing a policy agenda whose implications are overwhelmingly favorable to rich people and business owners. His opponents need to talk about this policy agenda, and they need to develop their own alternative agenda and make the case that it will better serve the needs of average people. And to do that, they need to get out of the habit of being reflexively baited into tweet-based arguments that happen on the terrain of Trump’s choosing and serve to endlessly reinscribe the narrative of a champion of the working class surrounded by media vipers….
[T]he most normal, blandly partisan parts of Trump’s agenda are also among the least popular. And yet Trump’s support for them is what immunizes him from Republican criticism and oversight over the abnormal stuff. Defending the basic norms of American constitutional government is important, but doing it as a partisan agenda won’t work — it turns off Trump’s core supporters and signals to wavering ones that his opponents are focused on abstractions rather than daily life. As long as Trump is enjoying the lockstep support of congressional Republicans, his opponents need to find ways to turn attention away from the Trump Show and focus it on his basic policy agenda and the ways in which it touches millions of people.”
5. Items of Note
- McKinsey & Company: How impact investing can reach the mainstream
- In a new survey by Morgan Stanley and Bloomberg, while 65% of 400+ surveyed asset managers in the US self-report that they practice sustainable investing, only 55% say the sustainable investing field lacks credible data to inform decision-making
- Bridges Impact+ and the Skopos Impact Fund have a new report, "More than Measurement: A Practitioner's Approach to Impact Management"
- The Silicon Valley Community Foundation has a guide to social responsibility for startups Starting with Purpose
6. Job Postings
- Salesforce.org seeks a Program Manager for Volunteerism (NYC)
- Einhorn Family Charitable Trust seeks a Director of Organizational Learning and Impact (NYC)
- Etsy seeks a Values Engagement Specialist (Brooklyn)
- Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has several openings (Menlo Park, CA)
- Echoing Green is seeking a Vice President of Finance and Administration (NYC)
7. Upcoming Events
Dec 6 Revaluing Ecosystems: FT - Rockefeller Foundation Series (New York) Responsible Investing
Dec 6-7 RI Americas 2016 hosted by Bloomberg (New York) Responsible Investing
Dec 7-8 Global Impact Investing Network (Amsterdam) Impact Investing
Feb 7-8 Do Good Data (Stanford University) Effective Philanthropy
March 30 Impact 2 (Paris) Impact Investing
April 4-6 Center for Effective Philanthropy (Boston) Effective Philanthropy
April 7 Wharton Social Impact Conference (Philadelphia) Impact Investing
May 31 - June 1 Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (Chicago) Effective Philanthropy
8. Upcoming Webinars
Dec 6 at 1pm ET Markets for Good: The Data Playbook: Data Practices for Purpose-Driven Work
Dec 6, 7, & 14 at 1pm ET Nonprofit Finance Fund: Financial Health & Social Good: Steering through Uncharted Waters
Dec 13 at 2pm ET Mission Investors Exchange: Unlocking Investment in Rural America: A Systemic Approach to Partnerships for Impact
That’s it for this week. Help me spread the word about #AllThingsImpact to your friends and colleagues, who can sign up to receive this newsletter at All Things Impact. Please also send me any job postings, items of note, upcoming events, or compelling links you discover in your own journeys across the web (even things like this puppy who's found a nap buddy).
Until next time, thanks for reading!
Head of Impact at Liquidnet. Full Bio.