$120-Billion Could Go to Social Investments

A new study estimates the potential market for investments that seek financial as well as social or environmental returns at $120-billion. The good news for charities is that most study participants who said they would put money into such investments said they would draw the funds from their investment portfolios rather than the money they set aside for philanthropy.

The Money for Good project, conducted by Hope Consulting, in San Francisco, surveyed 4,000 people with incomes of $80,000 or higher about their attitudes, behavior, and motivation regarding charitable giving and social investing.

Ten percent of survey participants said they were very interested in mission-related investing, while 38 percent reported they were interested but wanted to learn more. Forty percent said they were not sure yet, and 13 percent said they were not at all interested.

When people who said they would put money into “impact investments” were asked where that money would come from, only 10 percent said they would make the investments using money they would normally use for charitable donations.

Almost one-third of respondents said the money would come from current investments, and 26 percent said would use income that would otherwise be invested. Thirteen percent said they would reduce their discretionary spending.

“We don’t see a lot of evidence that this will cannibalize charitable giving, but it is another way that people are interested in putting money towards organizations, including nonprofits,” says Greg Ulrich, a management consultant who led the Money for Good project. “They should see it as an opportunity and not as a threat.”

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