The Stellar Rise of the New Philanthropic Intermediary

by Cathy Pharoah

Mar 1, 2007
Undeniably the rapid rise of a new and innovative breed of intermediaries is driving the recent rapid growth in the social investment or 'philanthrocapitalist' movement. These are agencies such as Venture Philanthropy Partners, Impetus, New Philanthropy Capital, Geneva Global, Ark and many others who have emerged within the last few years to attract and support a new type of donor, the 'social investor'.The new intermediaries have increasing power to affect the future shape of major philanthropy, creating the field as well as supporting individual donors. What are the new bodies offering? Can we compare or benchmark one with another? How will the emerging intermediary infrastructure increase the impact of philanthropy? Its costs will be well justified if it brings in new generations of donors and provides a more effective way of allocating scarce philanthropic resources.
The Stellar Rise of the New Philanthropic Intermediary
  • New intermediaries come from a background in finance or global investment and bring with them new investment cultures and tools to philanthropy. They have brought a business discipline to several aspects of the giving process which barely existed before: seeking detailed comparative information on the track record and effectiveness of potential recipients or investees, comparative measures of performance on a range of output factors, greater accountability, more regular and detailed monitoring and evaluation.
  • The big new challenge is measuring both financial and social returns. Accounting fully for the range of social returns which a project might yield can be difficult and time-consuming. Little consensus exists on how this can best be done.
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