Venture Philanthropy and Impact Investment – Complementary Roles in Today’s Social Investing Market

The world of venture philanthropy can be daunting. The rising sea of models, tools and best practices can be tricky to manoeuvre, and
being aware of the current trends and models can be the difference between sinking and swimming.

To help guide the choppy waters, AVPN teamed up with leading angel investment network BANSEA to shine a light on the similarities and differences of venture philanthropy and impact investing.

Hosted by the Autodesk Foundation, AVPN CEO Naina Batra moderated a panel of experienced social investors to discuss the two philanthropic concepts in December last year. Joining Naina was Mark Sayer, Executive Director of Empact, Robert Kraybill, Managing Director of the Impact Investment Exchange and Dr. Eric Xu, founder of the YiFang Foundation.

The discussion revealed a surprising number of shared challenges between venture philanthropy and impact investing. The allocation of resources, specifically time and money, were main issues. Finding worthwhile deals with strong leadership, knowing when to enter and exit a contract, and conducting due diligence surfaced as shared complications.

When asked about the role of philanthropy in impact investing, the panel agreed that philanthropy is often the starting point of impact investing. By proving their success through grant funding by donors, entrepreneurs are more able to attract commercial capital over time.
Philanthropy also gives them more freedom to experiment with different models and ideas, whilst providing them with support that impact investors might not be able to give.

The insightful and light-hearted discussion was a great way to round up 2015 with our members and partners and we hope to reach out to more sectors in the new year!