Cultural institutions start to put their assets to work for mission. Universities, private foundations and even large nonprofits have deployed hundreds of billions of dollars into ESG, impact and community-based investment strategies. In contrast, America’s art institutions have been slow to shift their $58 billion in endowment assets. That is changing, sparked by the COVID crisis and this year’s Black Lives Matter protests, as well as a stronger track record for both ESG and impact strategies. The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, for example, is deploying more of its $170 million endowment to socially responsible and impact investments, five years after moving to intentionally hire diverse-owned investment firms to manage a portion of its assets. “We're at the forefront of social justice issues and on the economic precipice here in Baltimore,” the museum’s Julia Marciari-Alexander told ImpactAlpha. “To be a transformative force for good in the city, this is exactly the kind of work that we need to be doing.”
Dealflow: Follow the Money
GoSite raises $40 million to digitize U.S. small businesses. The pandemic has forced traditional brick-and-mortar small businesses to lean into e-commerce to survive. San Diego-based GoSite helps small business owners set up websites and manage online transactions. The company's Series B round was led by Left Lane Capital, with participation from Longley Capital, Cove Fund, Stage 2, Ankona Capital and Serra Ventures.
Impact Voices: Pass the Mic
What Accountability Counsel learned about the state of impact accountability from 74 investors. Last month, International Finance Corp.’s Neil Gregory rounded up the publicly-available disclosures from signatories of the IFC’s Operating Principles for Impact Management (see, “What the IFC learned about the state of impact management from 62 investors”). Accountability Counsel’s Margaux Day has taken another look at the disclosure statements from impact fund managers (now up to 74) and found a gap: only three signatories report having accountability mechanisms that let individuals or communities negatively impacted by investments raise issues with investment decision-makers. Accountability mechanisms are critical impact tools, Day writes in a guest post on ImpactAlpha. “First, they offer the people who bear the most risk from investments – namely communities living near or working at investment sites – an opportunity to protect their rights and environment,” she says. “Second, they help ensure successful investments in that they provide investors with a way to learn of and address potential negative impacts before they drive an investment materially off course.”
Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent
ImpactAlpha contributing editor Monique Aiken, ex- of Mission Investors Exchange, joins The Investment Integration Project as managing director… Thierry Adant, formerly with Willis Towers Watson, is named chief investment officer at Newmarket Capital… Casey Family Programs’ Antoinette Malveaux and University of Washington’s Reggie Brown have beenelected to the Beneficial State Bank board of directors… San Francisco-based Community Vision is recruiting a president.
“It’s a great time for new entrants, but for those of us who’ve been doing this for a while it is equally urgent to raise our game right and to not get complacent,” said Margot Brandenburg of the Ford Foundation.
Host Monique Aiken recaps this week’s Agents of Impact Call on gender-smart investing and we go to South Africa to follow up with Secha Capital’s Kuhle Mnisi and Wukina’s Maureen Sibanda, this week’s Agents of Impact.