Now that’s what I call Philanthropy and Social Investment 9: Best of the web 10/5/13

patagoniaOK- so this “weekly” round up is in serious danger of being accused of flagrant false advertising at this point… Perhaps it would be less of a hostage to fortune if I re-labelled it a “regular” (or even “occasional”) round up instead? In any case, I have managed to find time to do sufficient web scouring to bring you my five best stories of the week (with a reasonably heavy social investment flavour this week).

1)First up is an interesting snippet from New Scientist asking “does online slacktivism reduce charitable giving?” (Slacktivism, for those of you who don’t spend all your time reading articles about trends in social action, is the fairly loathsome neologism describing the sort of social activism that consists mainly of signing online petitions, liking Facebook pages and retweeting things). This is a question I have considered a bit in the past, when wondering whether new forms of “low-friction” giving will have a negative impact on traditional donations (see this blog post for more info).

 2) This week saw the first anniversary of Big Society Capital, which it marked by producing its first annual report. An interesting article on Pioneers Post by social investor James Perry took an objective look at the progress BSC has made so far and the challenges it faces.

3) Further afield, there was some intriguing impact investing news from India, where a group of nine of the country’s leading impact investors have come together in an attempt to self-regulate their nascent industry. There are particular cultural concerns in India, where the recent experiences of failures in the microfinance industry have left many scarred and cynical about attempts to add a commercial edge to traditionally charitable endeavours. These impact investors have drawn up a charter in an attempt to nip such concerns in the bud. It will be fascinating to see how this develops.

4) Another interesting story highlighted the intersection between cutting edge CSR and social investment, with the news that outdoor clothing manufacturer Patagonia is launching an in-house $20m impact investing fund. This will invest solely in companies that share Patagonia’s social and environmental values, and looks like a fascinating model of the way that CSR could be done in the future.

5)And finally… bringing together the clothing company and philanthropy theme is the news that the founder of underwear maker Spanx has become the first female billionaire to sign the Giving Pledge. Apparently not content with helping millions of women through the medium of body-sculpting pants, Sara Blakely now wants to commit over half of her $1 billion fortune to women’s causes around the world.

 Rhodri Davies

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