Blueprint 2012 – Looking at the new social economy

Religious readers of this blog (my parents) know that more than once I’ve spruiked the value of Lucy Bernholz’s Philanthropy 2173 blog. It’s a great read for those interested in emerging trends in philanthropy and social investment. Lucy, a self confessed philanthropy-wonk and  visiting scholar at the Stanford University Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, also publishes a much anticipated annual industry forecast.  I got my hands on a copy of the Philanthropy and Social Investing 2012 Blueprint just before Christmas and it was a great way to both end 2011 and prepare for 2012.

The 2012 Blueprint is ultimately aimed at assisting “donors, investors and enterprise leaders address three big shifts in 2012”.

  1. Finding your way in the new social economy in which philanthropy and impact investing now operate
  2. Considering the implications of the Citizens United decision on philanthropy and social investing
  3. Making sense of data as a public good

On initial reading you’d be forgiven for thinking points 1 and 3 are the only ones that could possibly relate to an Australian context, but interestingly the potential implications of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision in the Unites States provides a couple of ‘ah-ha’ moments around the potential future of Australian philanthropic investments in light of our own High Court’s Aid/WATCH ruling (more on that later). I’m going to explore all three big shifts on this blog a little further over the next week. Today I’ll be taking a peek at the first of the identified big shifts; Finding your way in the new social economy.

One of the big statements of the 2012 Blueprint concerns the need to shift our traditional perspectives on non-profit/donor interactions to a much broader frame that encompasses the multiplicity of ways private resources are today being used for public good. This is a shift to the social economy frame and acknowledges a greater diversity of players, stakeholders and influencers in the resourcing of the ‘public good’. Lucy lists three main ‘galaxies’ as being at play within the social economy: impact investing, political giving, and charitable giving. Here in Australia are we too focused on exploring charitable giving without consideration to the role of those two other galaxies?

It’s fair to say impact investing in Australia is lagging well behind the United States and UK, but 2011 was a big year for the sector (think SEDIF, Hepburn Wind & the NSW Government Social Impact Bonds* announcement). While political giving may not be natural space of play within our system, the Australian High Court’s Aid/WATCH ruling has the potential to change traditional interactions between political parties, donors and non-profits (if donors and non-profits can cope with the cultural change required in this sphere of influence).

In short the interactions between these galaxies within the Australian context are happening at a growing rate and the influence each is expelling on the other needs greater examination.  The 2012 Blueprint helps to explore this beautifully:

Donors today are choosing between and among philanthropy, impact investing and political giving to pursue their goals…the line between the galaxies are clear, other times they are blurry.

As an example, a donor today may choose to pursue their interests in protecting the environment by funding direct landscape restoration & maintenance.  Alternatively they may decide to invest in a community wind farm project or support direct political advocacy with the aim of removing cattle grazing from a national park.

Lucy’s exploration of the social economy and the different galaxy of players has me thinking more and more about who is in the room when conversations about funding and tackling social and environmental problems are actually being had. Are we (donors & doers) actively excluding each other and if so, why? Lucy once again sums it up best:

It is not enough to focus only on philanthropy and nonprofits; rather we need to understand the changing dynamics of the whole economy over time…..The key to our future is accepting that our old assumptions about “which sector does what” may no longer hold.

It’s fair to say that despite opening with a statement on American political giving in the 2012 presidential campaign year, the Blueprint is packed with an enormous amount of content that will be of interest to Australian social investors. For those interested in where the shifts are happening, what the buzzwords of 2012 are likely to be, as well as a prediction on where the social economy is heading, then a copy of the 2012 Blueprint is a must.

You can get your hands on the 2012 Blueprint the following ways:

  • Hard copies from Lulu
  • PDFs at Scribd
  • Kindle version from Amazon
  • eBook from Smashwords. Also available for Amazon Kindle, B & N Nook and others.

*Interestingly Social Impact Bond is on the 2012 Blueprint Buzzword Watch List


You can follow the musings of Caitriona on Twitter via @cat_fay or the blog @3eggphil


The paucity debate that won’t go away

Another week, another story in the news about Australia’s wealthy being miserly when it comes to their giving. In Saturday’s Age Newspaper, Simon McKeon, 2011 Australian of the Year and philanthropist, led the charge against a paucity of giving from our high net worth individuals.  He was ably supported by more regular proponents of the debate in Daniel Petre, Dick Smith and Peter Winneke. Expect more to come with McKeon stating his intention to ‘elevate’ the issue over the coming weeks (perhaps we should invite him to blog?).

The McKeon focused article raised and addressed some of the myths around the ‘quiet code of giving’; if Australia’s wealthy were giving quietly surely it would show up in annual tax statistics? Or at the very least we could expect to hear more from charities about generous gifts from anonymous donors? No concludes Dick Smith, “I believe it’s a myth, I believe they don’t give”. The naming and shaming (and a couple of billionaires were highlighted) appears to be stage 1 of an attempt to develop an Australian culture of giving.  By increasing our community expectations of giving by high net worth individuals, we start to chip away at the tall poppy syndrome that keeps so many of our genuine philanthropists from speaking openly about their giving.

As I flipped my way through The Age on Saturday I came to the sports section where Australian NBA star Andrew Bogut was profiled, discussing his hopes for his business life after basketball and his philanthropy. It was easy to be impressed by Bogut’s business nous, discussing the need to grow his brand and business ventures at the ‘peak’ of his career, minimising risk and maximising his ability to recover should things go wrong.

Bogut then goes on to talk about his philanthropy and an interesting contradiction occurs.  He initially discusses the $25K he put up as reward for information on missing Melbourne teenager Jesse Densley. What Bogut recognised was that while the reward money would help, throwing his name behind the hunt for the teen would add to public awareness and ultimately might help to get Jesse home.  That’s masterful leveraging and it worked, with Jesse found hours later. Cash + Leverage = Impact. Bogut then goes on to tell of his new approach to giving – he follows world events and gives in a vein similar to the ‘secret millionaire’.  Much of the fundraising he did for the Victorian Bush Fires and Queensland and Victorian floods was without public attention or media, “that’s the way I like it” he notes.  So what we have is one article with a combative Dick Smith calling the myth of Australian ‘quiet giving’ rubbish and then just  few pages later we have Andrew Bogut espousing the value of it. The irony however is that Bogut provided the perfect example of the power of talking about giving via his donation to the reward for finding Jesse Densley. Here he acknowledges that the power of talking about his gift generated more impact than cash alone could. I wonder then what drove him to approach the rest of his philanthropy quietly?

Reading about Andrew Bogut’s business ventures and what drives him you get the feeling he has the potential to be a part of a new generation of philanthropists in Australia. They’re the ones that bring their business nous and clout to their giving, but critically, don’t mind talking about giving money away. Perhaps Simon McKeon needs to get on the phone to Andrew and encourage him to keep using his ‘brand’ to highlight issues that are important to him and to throw his giving into the spotlight. One thing that is clear about Andrew Bogut is that he is not a part of Australia’s miserly high net worth individuals, so ten more of him would be very nice.

You can follow Caitriona Fay on Twitter via @cat_fay