To create lasting change, social investment initiatives must be part of an on-going effort to consistently – and persistently – support impacted communities
Constant Giveback refers to Silverfern’s initiatives to create stable, contractually defined, growing income streams for organizations committed to social change and improvement.
Consistent Social Investment Initiatives
It is our view that to create lasting change, social investment initiatives should not be episodic or “event” reliant, but should be part of consistent and persistent support for the communities in which they are targeted. Episodic philanthropy is ill-suited to this mission, as by its nature it will lead to huge volatility in the revenue streams of the organizations responsible for this work. In down years, their work may need to be curtailed entirely, in many cases undoing all the work that has gone before.
Consider a large gift enabling the construction of a hospital in a developing nation. That is a commendable achievement, but in the absence of ongoing support once built, will not by itself fulfill the mission of social change through better healthcare for the community. In contrast, Constant Giveback, which provides stable and growing income every year for that same organization, allows the construction of the hospital, the staffing of it with doctors and nurses, the provision of medicines and equipment, and ongoing, multi-year monitoring and measurement of the effectiveness of that same social investment.
In 2016 Silverfern formed a unique, multi-year partnership with the Harvard Business School, under which a portion of Silverfern’s carried interest is contractually committed to support the HBS Global Gender Initiative. Supporting the work of HBS in the areas of women’s rights and grass-roots education and in providing needs-based scholarships for women business leaders, Silverfern’s Constant Giveback enables Harvard Business School to plan and undertake multi-year projects that maximize the benefit of its research and investment.
Social Investing with Market-based Returns
For the institutional investors supporting Silverfern, Constant Giveback means that a portion of the fees they would already pay to us to manage their assets are committed by us to a social impact cause, allowing those institutional investors to fulfill their own social investing goals. At the same time, rather than “investing” directly in a social project that might yield little or no financial return, Silverfern’s Constant Giveback initiative allows our institutional investors to potentially earn market-based financial returns by accessing Silverfern’s direct investment strategy, allowing them to responsibly plan for future obligations.
Silverfern is hopeful that stable, contractually defined initiatives such as Constant Giveback will over time become the industry standard for socially responsible investing.