May 2016 - In This Issue:
Curtesy of Council on Foundations
The Parallels in Giving & Investing  

By Christian Braemer
Cofounder & CEO, Benefunder  

Traditionally, these two concepts have been separated by a Chinese Wall built with a combination of ethics, moral, and even legal barriers. In the nonprofit world, investments used to be purely a means of increasing the capacity to give over time and grant making was the only way to further a mission. Today those lines are greying, partly due to a rise in social entrepreneurship and the introduction of for-profit strategies in giving among individuals and foundations.
Today, giving is less of a handout and more of a hand up, while investing is increasing, taking adding social impact as a factor. Don't believe me? In two seperate U.S. Trust surveys, one showed the growing role of impact in investment decisions and the other showed the level of satisfaction among high net worth individuals (HNWI's) in their giving experience. The former revealed that the importance of social, political, and environmental impact was 49% among baby boomers, 70% among Gen X'ers, and 85% among millennials! The latter study showed that 60% of HNWI's were dissatisfied with their giving, citing impact/efficiency and engagement as primary factors. 
What does it mean? The market must react. Financial advisors and non-profits will either have to adapt to the shift of expectations or become obsolete. As crazy as it sounds, the government may be reacting faster than the private sector, with the extension of the IRA charitable rollover and the recently  expanded definitions of program-related investments, or those that favor social impact over pure financial returns for private foundations. 
As we (Benefunder) work in the Donor Advised Fund space, we working with financial advisors, donors, and research programs, dealing with both investing and grant-making. We realized that in order to satisfy all stakeholders, we need to push the envelope and balance the challenge with opportunity in shifting market conditions.
I was asked to host a roundtable at this year's Council on Foundations Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., which is the largest gathering of foundations, endowments, non-profits and related service providers in the U.S. As expected, a lot of networking, idea sharing, and informational sessions ensued. Perhaps less expected was a conclusion I came to about impact investing, which I hadn't previously realized: all investments and grants are impact investments, and the structure that defines them is simply a reflection of the risk/stage and expected outcome of an organization, company, or program. 
Zoom out and think of all capital classes as having the same lens. If you line them up on a continuum, you have pure gifts (giving capital with no expectation of a return other than to help further a cause) on one extreme. Leading to the opposite end of the spectrum are proof of concept/clinical trials, startups, merging growth companies, and impact bonds, where you'd have the least risky investment, say treasuries (still impact). Along the continuum, there's a seesaw effect: when the bar is perfectly level, we expect the stage and risk are on an even plane with a potential outcome (impact and return). From there, we would transition from a grant to a financial return structure when deploying capital, which can still happen within a university.
What does it mean? Basically, we need to reevaluate how we view giving and investing. Since traditional grant making and impact investments aren't competing, they may come from multiple sources (for-profit vs. non-profit), sometimes simultaneously. For Benefunder and our mission to match researchers with aligned sources of capital, this holds very true. In traditional investing (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.), we have this notion of an efficient market, where price and demand are in parity. This is far from true in the non-profit world, particularly when it comes to research! There's plenty of evidence of this, but unfortunately not a lot of attention, which, for a capitalist, spells opportunity! The 'innovation deficit' is very real and has a profound effect on more traditional for-profit capital markets downstream. Since so many large companies can trace their origins to a research grant, this is simply a problem of aligning risk classes of capital with opportunities that match the intended outcome in an efficient way. This also means supporting the riskiest programs with the longest time horizons (basic research) through late stage research/new ventures, as well as established companies that are reflecting aligned values. 
This is what gets us excited!

Benefunder has created a first of its  kind philanthropy fund: the  Clean Energy Impact Fund. It supports some our nation's leading labs across multiple top institutions.  It will focus on advancing production, transmission, storage, and policy. This includes all stages of research, from basic through applied, and commercialization.  
Welcome to the Benefunder Impact Report, a monthly newsletter created to inform and inspire. Our mission is to help create a new marketplace for planned giving, while fueling innovation.  
Dr. Dan Klessig Receives Funding to Further Drug Discovery
Boyce Thompson Institute researcher Daniel F. Klessig to receive first of a series of $25K gifts by an anonymous donor for his novel research; he uses plant-based knowledge to identify potential treatments for human disease.

"I'm very grateful for the support made available through Benefunder," says Klessig. "It will help insure that our research to identify new targets of aspirin and to develop better, more efficacious salicylic acid-based drugs for the treatment of some of the most prevalent, devastating diseases will continue." 

Read more about his innovative work here.

New MAP Training Study Proven to Reduce Depression and Enhance Brain Activity
Rutgers researcher  Tracey J. Shors developed a  novel clinical intervention, called MAP Training, which helps women recover from trauma by combining both mental and physical activities to increase brain health. 

S he and her team have recently published a new  study on MAP in Translational Psychiatry that revealed a striking improvement for participants who used these innovative methods together. The findings showed that MAP, when performed  twice a week for two months, reduced symptoms of depression for a group of students by 40 percent. 

Benefunder Researcher Develops 
3D Print Liver-Like Tissues For Drug Testing And Disease Modelling

Shaochen Chen   is pushing the frontiers of 3-D printing into phenomenally new territory as he explores future applications of 3-D human tissue printing.

According to the article, "They discovered that the 3D-printed tissue was able to maintain its liver functions for longer periods compared to other similar models...The researchers hope that their new technology can be used in reproducing various disease models, such as cancer, cirrhosis and hepatitis, to help scientists have a better understanding on such illnesses."

Read more  here
Fukushima Site Still Leaking After Five Years, Research Shows

April 6th marked the 5th year anniversary of max radionuclide contamination in the ocean from Fukushima. Benefunder researcher
Ken Buesseler is marine scientist pioneering the way in understanding impact and health ramifications from Fukushima. In light of the anniversary, his work was recently highlighted in multiple outlets. 

According to an article, "
Five years after the Fukushima nuclear accident, there is still no U.S. federal agency responsible for studies of radioactive contaminants in the ocean. But scientific data about the levels of radioactivity in the ocean off our shores are available publicly thanks to ongoing efforts of independent researchers, including Ken Buesseler, a radiochemist with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), who has led the effort to create and maintain an ocean monitoring network along the U.S. West Coast." Read more here.

Donors who fund Buesseler's research will play a part in improving the safety and well-being of the global community.

Do Awareness Days Make a Difference? Yes, At Least One

A new study led by SDSU research professor John W. Ayers , in collaboration with Mark Dredze of  Johns Hopkins University, 
showcases a method for teasing out the impacts of awareness days using big data and finds that at least one awareness day is having a big impact.

According to a recent U-T San Diego article, "Awareness days can be as simple as sending out a press release, but the impact can be the same as expensive mass-marketing campaigns, the report found."

Read more about his findings  here.
"The Father of Modern Climate Change Awareness"

Columbia researcher James Hansen is pioneering climate change research. His latest publication on dangerous rising sea levels has sparked widespread attention.

According to a recent article, "His new research warns that water gushing from melted glaciers is already influencing important ocean circulations near both poles. The added cold water risks "shutting down" the North Atlantic heat circulation, triggering a series of storms similar to Hurricane Sandy, which hobbled New York City in 2012."

Read more about his innovative work  here.

In celebration of Earth Day, we'd like to showcase some of Benefunder's leading experts in this field.

Dr. Silva from Wisconsin-Madison works with directly with organic farmers to improve sustainable organic agriculture. She uses innovative  techniques for both organic agricultural and ecological systems. Her research will increase high-quality, good-tasting, and nutritious organic fruits and vegetables.
This Syracuse researcher advances our understanding of the global water crises and finds meaningful and actionable solutions for people in different communities around the world. She says, "Water is life, we cannot live without it, yet this critically necessary resource is not available to everyone." 

The Tulane group is designing inclusive and democratic development uniting residents, artists, and organizers in Upper Treme, New Orleans. They create development models that will reflect the rich culture of New Orleans, instead of merely renovating blighted properties.

The Michigan researcher is working on integration of amazingly efficient self-organization processes in future technologies. He is inspired by the "building blocks" of cellular machinery that assemble themselves into sophisticated structures and designs semiconductor and metal nanoparticles to do the same.
To learn more about our Charitable Innovation Fund, please contact Tom Paparatto at