Tuesday, October 28, 2014

DBL: Impact Fund with a Track Record

Having an established record on financial and impact performance, DBL is trying to keep the magic alive as they go forward.

http://nyti.ms/1Dmho2O

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Where's the Impact Investing Beef?

The NYT's Wealth Matters column touched on impact investing recently to describe how the asset class is expanding.  It was great to hear more about Paul Herman's HIP Investor rating system, but I am a bit tired of the large financial institutions getting quoted on the bright future of impact investing even though they do not have lots of options for their clients today.

http://nyti.ms/1lFwvkU

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Is the Peterborough SIB a Success or a Failure or Too Early to Tell?

While the initial results of the Peterborough SIB did not trigger payments to the investors, the many factors driving this first SIB's success or failure are still up in the air.  This report from NPQ outlines the various positions and opinions.  Perhaps most telling is that the UK government has decided not to continue the program as a SIB but rather to revert to a more standard pay for performance contract without outside investors.

I think the role/need for investors in SIB structures remains unclear.

First Social Impact Bond Fails to Meet Halfway Mark Performance Target - NPQ - Nonprofit Quarterly

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Motivating Corporations to Do Good???

Eduardo Porter provides a nice summary of the history of what we now call corporate social responsibility.  He chronicles the increasing power of shareholders and equity-compensated managers over the last 50 years and calls on government to make sure corporations are good citizens.

Unfortunately, government does not exist in a vacuum and has increasingly lost power and resources versus corporations.  Shareholders (but primarily the senior corporate managers who control them) have used their additional power and money to fight government, labor , communities and all of the other stakeholders in our society.  We are now seeing the fruits of this 50 year transition.  

http://nyti.ms/1qdiQ6H

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Modest Expectations and Consistent Followthrough

This Upshot piece in today's NYT offers the hope that maybe we can focus on social programs that actually work as a good middle ground between the "all government is bad" ideology of the right and the "more money will solve all problems" from the left.

While this approach can attract bipartisan support, it also requires reasonable expectations and consistency over long periods of time - not typical characteristics of our political process.

http://nyti.ms/1rcQNUl

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Cognitive Dissonance, Creativity and Social Progress

David Brooks' op-ed calls out the important work of B corporations in overcoming the contradiction of well-intentioned but ineffective charity and the short-sighted, short-termism of corporate shareholders.  

http://nyti.ms/1zlf2lr

Monday, June 30, 2014

Data and Knowing

David Brooks' recent op-ed on how data points are not knowledge - especially when looking at human behavior - made me appreciate the immense challenges we face when seeking to shift human behavior through interventions and programs.

http://nyti.ms/1g9XnXz

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tilting at Fossil Fuel Windmills?? Maybe Not. Complete Divestment is Now an Option

Complete divestment from fossil fuels has always been viewed as a somewhat naive socially-responsible investment approach.  But it appears that several environmental foundations are in fact pursuing this goal.  What was unthinkable a couple of years ago has moved to center stage in the climate change risk debate due largely to Bill McKibbon's grassroots organization 350.org.

Bill McKibben, president and co-founder of 350.org, said he had been encouraged by the spread of the argument “that fossil fuel companies as they’re currently incarnated are essentially rogue companies, that they have in their reserves far more carbon than any scientist thinks it’s safe to burn.”

http://nyti.ms/1a2DRcD

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Scaling Up Year Up


I was able to attend the graduation ceremony of Year Up in New York two weeks ago and saw what these students can do.  Year Up is at the forefront of how young people can be viewed by corporate American as valuable resources rather than cost burdens.   How can we get Year Up to work with all of the disconnected youth in our country as soon as possible?  60 Minutes had a great segment on Year Up.  http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/jobs-program-benefits-fortune-500-and-underprivileged-youth/

Thursday, February 13, 2014

100,000 Homes Campaign on 60 Minutes

It is great to finally see the 100,000 Homes Campaign that puts long-term homeless people into housing presented as a cost-effective and socially beneficial approach on 60 Minutes.  Rosanne Haggerty has taken the supportive housing model and in now amplifying it around the country.  It draws on existing resources in communities to take on this major social issue.

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/100000-homes-housing-the-homeless-can-save-money/

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Year-End New York State SIB attracts more commercial capital

The recent Merrill Lynch and U.S. Trust-led $13.5 million social impact bond attracted over 30 HNWs like former Harvard President Larry Summers and family offices.  With only a 10% philanthropic credit enhancement from the Rockefeller Foundation, this prison recidivism SIB should be more replicable than previous U.S. SIBs.

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/Change-Agent/2014/0107/Pay-for-success-social-impact-bonds-help-train-ex-convicts