Is it a case of ‘a New Year, a new project’? I’m not sure yet but in recent weeks I have found myself actively engaged in a project that’s been very much on the back burner for about a year. Thanks to seed funding from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (we all know it as NESTA) I’m working with the team at US based Impact Assets to investigate the potential for replicating its unique impact investing structures in the UK.
With Impact Assets, an offshoot of Calvert Social Investment Foundation, I am exploring the establishment of the first 100% socially responsible, high impact Donor Advised Fund (DAF) for England, investing in and donating money to social and environmental causes and enterprises. The idea is that it will initially design investment opportunities within its structure to support Big Society initiatives.
We think the new platform will fill a clear market gap for a DAF configured to maximise public benefit in England. If we get it off the ground it will be established and managed:
- To provide donors with opportunities to allocate their contributions across a range of UK impact investing and Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) products while funds are under management with the DAF
- To advise donors how to apply their funds under management into the emerging field of impact investing via Big Society initiatives
- To encourage donors to give philanthropically to Big Society initiatives through the DAF, potentially matching their giving pounds to their investing pounds.
With the current value of the Donor Advised Fund market in the UK is estimated at GBP 1 billion, drawn from circa 4,000 trust accounts and 80,000 smaller individual giving accounts, and trends showing that the DAF is growing in popularity as a vehicle for charitable giving, it would appear to be a good time for Impact Assets to enter the UK market and potentially the entire Eurozone. It’s an exciting and fast cooking project that may be ‘oven ready’ in a few months, or may go back on to the back burner to ‘prove’ some more.