“This work is not for sissies,” admitted Acumen Fund founder Jacqueline Novogratz in reference to the work that Global Philanthropy Forum members do in philanthropy and impact investing. And she’s right: the problems we face in health, environment, education and poverty are ubiquitous and persistent. These problems are incredibly complex, and they require profound patience coupled with ingenuity in the way that we marshal our resources to solve them. Tuesday’s GPF speakers emphasized again and again that it will take all of us – governments, businesses, philanthropists and individuals – pooling our resources in new ways, with new metrics, to solve these problems.
We opened the day learning about the ways in which this is happening in Latin America, Africa and Asia – philanthropy there is not just about writing checks. Nigerian social investor Tony Elumelu called for catalytic philanthropy with a long-term view that marshals private sector time and capital to create real growth in Africa. Brazilian philanthropist Carol Civita of the Victor Civita Foundation stressed that no matter where we work, it is imperative that we find strong local partners and bring their knowledge and input to every step of the design and implementation phases.
Impact investing, one form of catalytic philanthropy, was introduced by American impact investor Ron Cordes in a later session. He posed the question that while foundations have traditionally spent 5-7 percent of their assets in grants each year, what about the other 93 percent? How can philanthropists use all of their assets, not just their grant budgets, to produce economic, social and environmental benefits?
Jacqueline Novogratz picked up on this question as she launched the new joint report from the Acumen Fund and The Monitor Group, From Blueprint to Scale: The Case for Philanthropy in Impact Investing. She called on us to pool our shared knowledge to tackle these problems – for every single source of capital is needed to address these problems, as are new metrics that focus on the lives, policies, and systems changed.
An evening plenary on Egypt underscored that we must not forget young people in this work – they too are needed if we are to build better, more accountable systems. Egyptian emeritus professor Saad Eddin Ibrahim remarked that he will feel safe in a new Egypt if young people are in charge – they will make mistakes surely, but as he said, “to make mistakes is a human right.” Egyptian heart surgeon turned satirist Bassem Youssef closed the evening with a powerful message: “We can see the difference we made starting with one camera in one room. We cannot let anyone take our voice again. This is the real revolution – that we have found our voice.”
We invite you to watch highlights from today’s sessions below, or, even better, to watch the full videos online in our GPF video archive at philanthropyforum.org/video.
For more from the Forum, check out the day’s recap on Storify.