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December 12, 2012

Grant Makers Use Commercial Investments to Advance Missions

Barriers between nonprofits and for-profits are breaking down as big philanthropies, taking a cue from Wall Street and Silicon Valley, increasingly invest in commercial companies whose business goals match up with social concerns, The New York Times writes.

Major foundations, financial institutions, and tech-billionaire donors such as Bill and Melinda Gates and Pierre and Pam Omidyar are using—and building—assets by backing start-ups in areas such as education, health care, and affordable housing that mix mission and profit.

"If we really want to produce transformational change, change in a disruptive, exponential kind of way, there is going to have to be more than philanthropic dollars involved,” said Steve Goldberg of Caffeinated Capital, which advises investors, governments, and nonprofits.

(See The Chronicle's most-recent article on the growing interest in "impact" investing.)