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The Convergence of Capitalism and Philanthropy 


By Christian Braemer

Cofounder & CEO, Benefunder


While attending the Council on Foundations (CoF) annual meeting in San Francisco last week, I learned about exciting new trends in philanthropy.


The theme that really stood out was the graying lines of business, investing, and philanthropy. For profit companies are being founded with the specific purpose of creating social good. Venture capitalists are measuring a startup's social impact as value, and everyday investors are favoring social responsibility over financial returns. Was this a parallel universe or did I miss something in business school?


Mixing capitalism with philanthropy? What a concept! This exploding trend further validates what we are doing at Benefunder -- combining the nonprofit and for profit worlds for the greater good, and providing philanthropists with a smarter and more meaningful way to give. As a hybrid organization -- part tech start-up, part foundation -- these are exactly the principles we live by. I even wrote a recent OpEd in the San Diego Business Journal about the need for this hybrid model.


Apparently I wasn't the only one who was surprised to find a like-minded group during the CoF conference. The impact investing portion of the meetings were all standing room only.  I had the pleasure of hearing about how the Kaufmann Foundation (and others) had invested in startups like AngelList, how the Richmond Foundation had floated a social impact bond to fix their dilapidated neighborhoods, and the difference between mission- and program-related investments.


Imagine using a tested and true institution (capitalism) that made this country great, for social good? This is exactly what's happening now and many foundations are jumping into the game.


What does it all mean? Priorities are shifting, social good is being rewarded, financial disruption is happening, and ultimately, the public's voice is being heard. Now imagine what this trend will mean for innovation, the primary driver in our economy going forward?


Envision Benefunder syndicating venture philanthropy deals with wealth management firms to push promising new translational research to market. Now that's high-impact philanthropy!



To learn more about our Charitable Innovation Fund or how Benefunder can become an integral part of your practice, please contact Tom Paparatto at


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Welcome to the Benefunder Impact Report, a bimonthly newsletter created to inform and inspire. Our mission is to connect you with the causes you care most about while fueling innovation through planned giving. 


Studies estimate that 1 in every 5 military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan has PTSD.  

During a recent Benefunder Lab Tour, wealth advisors and other guests had an exclusive look inside the Del Mar Neuro Center, where Dr. Kevin Murphy is spearheading a clinical trial for veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as patients with autism and 'chemo brain.'  During the tour, the advisors also heard first-person testimonials from retired Vice Admiral Harold Koenig, former Surgeon General of the Navy; a distinguished Army and Navy SEAL; combat veterans; and parents of cerebral palsy patients, all who have undergone treatment by Dr. Murphy.


The trial involves Magnetic Resonance Therapy (MRT), the only noninvasive and personalized brain stimulation approach calibrated using various biometric rhythms to treat autism spectrum disorder.    


Dr. Murphy has already treated hundreds of patients with incredible results and has recently been approved to begin treatment on active Marines at Camp Pendleton. If successful, this groundbreaking new treatment could change the lives of tens of thousands of PTSD sufferers. Distributions made to Dr. Murphy's research will go to treating many more patients with hopes of publishing results of the trial in a major journal.  


Benefunder's lab tours are designed to introduce our  'plug and play' solution to advisors. Our unique philanthropic solution is designed to attract new assets while adding value to client relationships. Our first Lab Tour resulted in uncovering over $30 million in new client opportunities. Our next Lab Tour is scheduled for Thursday, May 14. Please contact
River Brown at 
for more information.




Blanca Gordo, an artificial intelligence researcher at ICSI.   
The Benefunder team recently ventured to Northern California to film researchers at the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI) who are working on an array of exciting projects, from speech recognition technologies to Internet privacy, machine learning , artificial intelligence , and novel technology solutions to reduce the influence of money on politics. ICSI, located in Berkeley, Calif., is also renowned for innovation in computer networking, speech and language processing, bioinformatics, brain networks, computer vision, audio and multimedia analysis.


This week, our crew is filming a neuroscientist at UC San Francisco who is developing new solutions to make the brain learn and remember more effectively; and a UCSF School of Dentistry professor whose research could have a tremendous impact on individuals affected by tooth loss, as well as providing a general model to enhance our knowledge of organ regeneration.      


To stay on top of the latest news and information, visit our News page.



Big congrats to Drew Hall, an electrical and computer engineer at UC San Diego who was recently selected as one of 16 winners in the Cal-BRAIN Initiative. All funded projects will be applicable to the full spectrum of brain disorders, including traumatic brain injury, paralysis, epilepsy and Alzheimer's.  



The use of charitable deductions can be a powerful part of a tax strategy for those who are planning to make donations, according to Fidelity. One way to make the most of charitable giving is to donate long-term appreciated securities, which eliminates capital gains tax or the new Medicare surtax. This allows donors to give more to charity compared to selling the stock and donating the proceeds. A Donor Advised Fund can streamline the donation process, especially if a donor plans to give to multiple charities.


For more information on how Benefunder's goals-drive DAF can enhance your giving, contact Tom Paparatto at


*This tip is for information purposes only and should not be considered tax advice.






Solutions for Securing Structures and Rebuilding Communities After Natural Disasters

In light of the recent devastating earthquake in Nepal, many people are asking, "How prepared are we for such a natural disaster and what would we do in the event of such devastation?"  Donors may also be wondering how they can help, beyond disaster relief contributions.  
Below are two Benefunder researchers who are making important strides in this area:

Amy Cerato from the University of Oklahoma has developed a 1.5 acre outdoor lab that creates and tests new technologies and materials in various conditions relating to natural and man-made disasters. Her hope is to mitigate human and economic losses due to natural hazards and create structures more resilient to multi-hazards so recovery and order can happen in days instead of weeks or months. Starting with stronger foundation systems, Cerato believes they will anchor our nation's infrastructure and allow it to withstand  a host of multi-hazards, including extreme wind events, earthquakes, landslides and expansive soils.
Watch her engaging video here


To aid in disasters,
Sarah Bergbreiter  of the University of Maryland has created tiny robots that can be released in the devastated areas to survey the site, find the injured, assess the damage, and assist the disaster relief crews with feedback and relevant information. These low-cost, ant-sized robots are already being tested and designed for such applications as disaster relief, medical assistance, and infrastructure monitoring. The potential for these robots after natural disasters is limitless.