Solving the Giving Pledge Bottleneck

This book highlights the historic inflection point we are in, both in terms of philanthropy in general and specifically in financing the solutions to our largest and most urgent social and environmental problems. It covers the two movements that have recently had a dramatic influence on capitalism. First, wealthy millennials have been pressuring their bankers to invest their family portfolios in companies with high social and environmental impact (ESG ratings), triggering a wave where the wealth management industry, and now all public companies, are significantly adapting to the increasing demand for the good. Second, The Giving Pledge triggered another wave, changing what success and the accumulation of wealth means. It has even begun to redefine the goal of capitalism as more than 200 billionaires have pledged to give half or more of their wealth away.

This book also focuses on the bottleneck problem that The Giving Pledge has created, as it is very hard to give hundreds of billions away with measurable impact to nonprofits lacking detailed long-term plans to scale. Nonprofits have never had the luxury of having all the resources to invest in the planning, management training, and systems needed to rapidly expand. Thus taking in very large gifts is very difficult, and almost impossible to justify. Large philanthropy can always be used for traditional capital campaigns and to fund endowments, yet The Giving Pledge signers are often looking for a large visible impact beyond these traditional avenues. The result is a bottleneck that has grown as more billionaires pledge their funds away while their wealth continues to skyrocket and giving rates stay very small.

Finally, this book covers the emergence of large giving vehicles, modeled after the private equity industry. They have sophisticated third-party managers focused on deploying funds and supporting management teams. It also covers the scaling of nonprofits in a significant way (“Big Bets”) as well as investing large philanthropy through for-profits as Program Related Investments (PRI) at scale. This book is of interest specifically to nonprofit and foundation leaders, as well as wealth managers, estate attorneys, and other philanthropic advisors. It is also of interest to investors and corporate CEOs as they begin to access these large pools for philanthropic capital to increase their impact. This book is focused on providing those with the ability to make large philanthropic investments a path to scale their impact and increase their fulfillment and that of their family. It provides a step-by-step guide of how these approaches, especially PRI at scale, can actually solve the social and environmental challenges that have been seemingly hopeless.

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