September 2020

Investments

Volume 25 , Number 3

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September 2020

Investments

Volume 25 , Number 3

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Inside the world of philanthropic investments

The philanthropic world is facing mounting challenges from the impacts of climate change to inequality, global pandemics and authoritarian populism increase. At the heart of sector debates is the question of how foundations use their resources: not just the small amount for grantmaking and other charitable spending but the totality – most of which is invested in global capital markets in sectors such as aviation and pharma, through vehicles such as hedge funds and private equity and managed by discrete investment houses, many of whom are unknown to philanthropy practitioners let alone the wider public.

For a vocal group, the current moment demands foundations spend more of their resources now and use the management of their investments to signal their values – and their virtue – even if it means eroding their assets.

But for others, the calculus is rather different. One important case is the California based Hewlett Foundation. In their dialogue with Alliance guest editor, Danielle Walker Palmour, Hewlett’s president Larry Kramer and Chief investment officer, Ana Marshall set out some remarkable and controversial terms for using their $10 billion endowment rejecting the ‘easier course’ to give more now in favour of an approach which sets money aside for future generations. Whatever approach is taken, foundations will need to be more transparent now that investing in global capital markets is at the heart of both philanthropic debate and public concern. Hewlett and others can rightly expect interest in who manages their investments, and who benefits.

In itself, that is no bad thing. And if nothing else, we hope this issue of Alliance tells us more about what we don’t know – with whom do foundations entrust their assets.

This issue also marks the arrival of our new column – Philanthropy confidential – our space for you to tell Regi, our secret philanthropy correspondent, what’s on your mind. A lot it turns out.

Special feature

Investments are our superpower

1 September 2020
Danielle Walker Palmour

It’s widely accepted that institutional philanthropy can achieve more by throwing the whole of its weight behind its mission. This special feature examines some of the ways and means in which foundations are doing so Globally, the latest statistics suggest that philanthropy donates around $58 billion per annum and copious studies outline the many causes and issues we give to. In contrast, according to Paula Johnson’s estimate in her 2018 Global Philanthropy Report, our assets …

 
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Editorial

The Hewlett way

The philanthropic world is facing mounting challenges. As the impacts of climate change, inequality, global pandemics and authoritarian populism increase, foundations are being called on and, in some cases, called out more than ever. At the heart of debate is how foundations use their resources: not just the small amount on grantmaking and other charitable spending but the totality – most of it invested in global capital markets in sectors such as aviation and pharma, through vehicles such as hedge funds and private equity and managed by discrete investment houses, many of them unknown to philanthropy practitioners let alone the …

Letters

Philanthropy confidential – September 2020

Regi

All your confidential philanthropic queries answered Philanthropy confidential is your space to safely and anonymously get advice on ethical dilemmas …

A matter of mutuality, solidarity and trust

David Bonbright For Subscribers

Congratulations to the Alliance team, and its outstanding guest editors Halima Mahomed, Graciela Hopstein and Romy Krämer for your coverage …

It’s time to be bold beyond the rhetoric

Tendisai Chidgwedere For Subscribers

If philanthropy is serious about supporting social movements, it needs to be ready to take risks and have skin in …

Funders have to adapt to movements, not the other way round

Martin Modlinger For Subscribers

I keep wondering why especially larger funders are bent on creating movements, but are then baffled when movements actually emerge, …