When first introduced in 2012, Giving Tuesday was a brilliant idea. And although we get way too many emails about it, I love that it has evolved from one day of giving into a “global generosity movement unleashing the power of radical generosity” with a broad alliance of members and a collaborative ecosystem aimed at understanding and spreading “best practices for increasing generosity and driving systems change.” That is big language, and I like the spirit it conveys.
However we must go so much further if we want to drive systems change. Whether it’s one day of giving or 365 days of giving, philanthropy can only go so far. I’ve spent a very fulfilling 25 year career in philanthropy advising and appreciate the power of giving to: improve the quality of life in communities, catalyze innovation, fund the watchdogs and advocates, underwrite great art, and provide a sliver of equity to a narrow population lucky enough to get access to nonprofit programs. And about 12 years ago, I woke up to the fact that philanthropy is a woefully insufficient tool to create systems change.
The modern world is driven by capital. And to make durable systems change we need to not only access and leverage that capital, but we need to make fundamental shifts in who controls the capital and the norms and mechanisms through which various stakeholders allocate it.
Of course, we need philanthropy, policy and the private sector together. Philanthropy can fund the environmental education program, but the big durable change happens when shareholders of McDonald’s demand a change in packaging or the major automakers commit to building electric cars. We can’t continue to seek profits from a smart investment portfolio whose assets do not align with the values our philanthropic pursuits encourage.
At Invest for Better we are focused on the “Who controls capital” by helping women understand the power of their investment assets, learn how to align their investments with their social values, and activate them to make a more just and sustainable world for all. Women are wonderful philanthropists, but, for a variety of reasons, have been far less engaged than men in the capital markets. Yet women are inspired by the opportunities of values-aligned and impact investing and we believe that, collectively, their influence can and will shift capital markets to prioritize sustainability and social justice.
Giving Tuesday represents one day of the year, and only a percentage of your overall portfolio. Through values-aligned and impact investing, we invest in systems change every day with all the money at our disposal.
Go beyond Giving Tuesday. Invest for Better.