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Giving Compass' Take:
• Oliver Williams explains both sides of the debate over the benefits and costs of the shift from philanthropy to investing for impact.
• Could impact investing boost your philanthropic efforts? What is the appropriate balance of giving and impact investing for you?
• Learn about impact investing.
On the face of it, its a win-win. An investor can put their money into organizations that do good in the world and make a healthy profit in the process.
But what if, as research shows, this type of investing comes at the cost of charity? Funds earmarked for schools, hospitals or other popular philanthropist projects are being diverted into investment funds, which align themselves with certain sustainability goals. But who's winning from this windfall?
A survey from Standard Chartered found up to 84 percent of HNWIs (investors with over $1 million) could take funds they reserved for philanthropy and put it into sustainable investments.
The British bank estimates as much as $870 billion around the world could be reallocated from charities to these investment funds.
This is a good thing says Didier von Daeniken, global head of Private Banking and Wealth Management at Standard Chartered, who believes, "the financial system has the potential to be a major catalyst in the sustainability revolution".
The United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) currently face an annual funding shortfall of $2.5 trillion. Investors can go some way to bridging that gap, says Standard Chartered.
This can be achieved by investing in companies that align themselves with these goals. "Think of an investment strategy in the public equity space as selecting stocks that make projects that map to the UN Sustainable Development Goals," says Bruno Bertocci, head of Global Sustainable Equities at UBS Asset Management.
The number of individuals and family offices that have focused on UN sustainable goals has grown, says Bertocci: "That’s something that has pretty good awareness".
Few would argue that putting money into sustainable investments is a bad thing. But what if the rise of these funds come at the expense of charity?
In the U.K. the average donation from those in the £250,000 ($330,000) tax bracket in the 2016-17 tax year was just £1,000 ($1,320) down from £1,100 ($1,452) the previous year, according to figures from HM Revenue & Customs.
Its a similar story in the U.S. says Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit that provides advice to charities and individuals. They found ultra-wealthy American families donated just 1.2% of their assets to charity in 2017.
Read the full article about the shift from philanthropy to investments by Oliver Williams at Forbes.