Robynn Steffen
Director, Impact Investing

Why We Invested: The ImPact Next Generation Leadership Council

April 26, 2018

As millions of people joined the March for Our Lives last month, it reminded me that sometimes it takes the next generation to inspire us and lead us forward. With fresh eyes, they see justice so clearly. Unburdened by “the way it’s always been,” they drive us toward “the way it should be”.

We also see the next generation as powerful catalysts driving ultra high net worth (UHNW) families toward impact investing. Millennials are expected to inherit trillions in coming decades. These “Next Gen” often wish to steward that wealth in line with their values. From research by U.S. Trust, Morgan Stanley, and UBS and Campden Wealth, we know that 93% of millennials believe social impact is key to their investing decisions, millennials are twice as likely as other investors to seek out investments targeting social or environmental goals, and millennials are influencing their families. In fact, nearly one-third of all the HNW individuals surveyed by U.S. Trust last yearreported that next generation family members have “made them more likely to add impact investments to their portfolio.” This high-profile trend has been captured by articles in the Financial TimesThe Economist, and Fast Company, leading “Millennials Demand It” to be one of the most prominent impact investing narratives in the U.S.

At Omidyar Network, this trend resonates with our own story. Pierre and Pam Omidyar were remarkably young when they pioneered a groundbreaking hybrid structure to harness the power of markets towards social change. Though the term “impact investing” had yet to be coined, it was already clear to them that “a true philanthropist will use every tool he can to make an impact.”

Wealthy millennials overwhelmingly share that clarity, yet face challenges in moving from conviction to action, especially within multi-generational families. That is why we’ve supported The ImPact’s Next Generation Leadership Council. Omidyar Network is proud to have been one of the co-founding partners of The ImPact, a member network that inspires families to make more impact investments more effectively. With notable Next Gens such as Justin Rockefeller and Liesel Pritzker Simmons at the helm, we think The ImPact is well-suited to now build out a suite of opportunities tailored specifically to the needs of Next Gens. The ImPact will foster peer-to-peer learning and encouragement through annual cohorts, in-person retreats, and the creation of a multimedia package that Next Gens can use to kick-start the impact investing conversation with key decision-makers in their families.

As The ImPact Next Generation Leadership Council seeks to bolster Next Gens as influential advocates for impact investing within prominent families, we are encouraged by the emergence of complementary opportunities. As just one example, Harvard Kennedy School’s Initiative for Responsible Investment and the University of Zurich’s Center for Sustainable Finance and Private Wealth jointly offer an executive education course to arm Next Gens with foundational knowledge about the impact investing market. By empowering Next Gens, we believe this growing ecosystem is poised to unlock billions for investments that make a lasting impact for people and the planet.

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