Morning all – we’re back again with another Friday missive of (hopefully) educational and entertaining philanthropy and impact investing-related news. I was away last week, so I’ve allowed myself the luxury of drawing on the last two weeks worth of stories.
As you’ll see, this week’s round-up has a strong corporate philanthropy flavour. That’s not particularly a deliberate choice – it just so happens all most interesting stories I came across were about corporate themes. That’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes…
1) First up is an article from Forbes listing the “top 15 entrepreneurs who give back to their community“. Not much to say about this: some familiar names, some unfamiliar ones, but everyone loves a list, right?
2) At two is the news in Inside Philanthropy that Michael Bloomberg has made his first foray into social investment. In some ways it is surprising that it has taken Bloomberg this long to get involved in this fast-growing field, given how sophisticated and significant a philanthropist he is, but up to now his focus has been very much on traditional giving. This article does neglect to mention his involvement in the Rikers Island Social Impact Bond, where he offered a guarantee to secure investment from Goldman Sachs, which certainly sounds pretty social investment-ish… The point is that this is the first time he has given money for a social purpose with expectation of a financial return. And he has gone big: offering a $5m low-interest loan to social enterprise Little Sun, which makes portable solar lamps for use in the developing world. Is this potentially big news for impact investing?
3) A surprising corporate philanthropy story this week, with the news that a majority of the members of New York City Council signed a letter to the Walton family, owners of retail giant Walmart, demanding that the company stop supporting local charities in the city! The letter’s contention is that the gifts are part of a cynical ploy by Walmart to gain a foothold in New York, where it has long wanted to establish a presence. Even if there is some basis for the Council’s concerns about Walmart’s employment practices etc, this seems like an extraordinary outburst and an incredibly simplistic position to take.
4) At four is an article from Fast Company magazine highlighting “5 myths socially conscious entrepreneurs need to ignore”. This does a good job of making the case that it is increasingly in the commercial interests of companies to think about their social impact, and corrals some interesting examples of corporates that are already making this approach work.
5) And finally… a proper “and finally” story this week, with the news that as part of its 85th birthday celebrations global pest control giant Rentokil is supporting an entomophagous lunch fundraiser in Washington DC. That’s “insect-eating” if you were wondering. Yep, as part of what is. to my mind, a clever mutli-faceted piece of CSR, Rentokil and its partner restaurant will be raising money for social enterprise D.C. Central Kitchen and also raising awareness of the increasing need to consider insects as a food source. Rentokil is providing the insects (food-grade ones, I hasten to add, not the ones caught by its exterminators) and the lunch menu will include grasshopper burgers, crispy barbecue mealworms and scorpion lollipops. Is anyone else starting to feel hungry…?