Next Steps

Since announcing that I would be moving on from Idealistics I’ve had the opportunity to have a lot of interesting conversations with great folks. The more I learn about what is out there and as I kick around a slew of ideas, the less sure I am of what my next steps should be.

Last week I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend a retreat on data and philanthropy in New York hosted by the Heron Foundation. The conference included representatives from across the foundation and nonprofit world as well as for-profit executives ranging from finance to predictive analytic startups.

The conversations I had there challenged and expanded my thinking on the social sector. Particularly eye-opening was Clara Miller’s, CEO of the Heron Foundation, vision for Heron to invest 100% of its capital for social impact.

Clara argues that all investments (nonprofit and for-profit alike) have a social impact, whether that impact is positive or negative. Moving forward the Heron Foundation plans to make all of its investments with an eye toward social returns, breaking the traditional confines of expecting only financial return from for-profit investments and looking solely to the non-profit sector for social gains.

As I think about my own possible next steps, this simple (and in hindsight obvious) idea that all investments have a social impact will prove to be formative in my own philanthropic intellectual maturation.

At this point I’m not sure which direction I’m going to go, but Clara certainly opened me up to thinking beyond the gated gardens of the not-for-profit sphere.

In the meantime I’m doing some interesting consulting work that affords me the luxury to wait for the right opportunity, or idea, to grab me. As Idealistics winds down I’ll move back to writing more here on Full Contact Philanthropy, starting with a write-up on a talk I gave at last week’s data and philanthropy conference, followed by some posts publicly hashing out some new concepts I’m mulling over.