Burckart worked with the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies, a leading source of ground-breaking research and knowledge about the nonprofit sector, social investing, and the tools of government, on the production of the New Frontiers of Philanthropy Project.
The corresponding book (New Frontiers of Philanthropy: A Guide to the New Actors and Tools Reshaping Global Philanthropy and Social Investing, Oxford University Press, 2014) represents the culmination of this multi-year effort to map how philanthropy is being reinvented for the 21st century, charting the striking array of new actors and tools taking their places on the frontiers of philanthropy and social investing.
New Frontiers of PhilanthropY
As covered in the launch op-ed in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, the New Frontiers book provides a new tool for the impact investing field—one that may help the field make the leap from a still relatively small band of imaginative innovators and ardent enthusiasts to a broader group of well-intentioned philanthropists, foundation officials, nonprofit executives, social entrepreneurs, and next-gen leaders who have heard the siren call of “impact investing” but have held back, uncertain about its pedigree or longevity, and unclear about how to connect their own passions and interests to this emerging world of social-purpose finance.
The book is the brainchild of Lester Salamon, the Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies. To create the volume Salamon and Burckart assembled a team of experts from the worlds of impact investing, philanthropy, community development finance, mainstream investing, and academia to contribute chapters—including leaders from The Economist, Harvard University, Center for American Progress, Global Impact Investing Network, Venture Philanthropy Partners, and ACCION International. The result is a comprehensive and authoritative guide to the new actors and tools reshaping global philanthropy and social investing.
The book is also discussed in a series of blog posts by New Frontiers contributing author and production manager Burckart on the Next Billion financial innovation blog. Importantly, this series not only highlights the content of the book; it endeavors to put the book into context with up-to-the-minute trends, ongoing discussions, and emerging challenges in the sector – highlighting the ways this book can become a valuable tool in addressing those challenges, and bringing greater clarity to the field in myriad ways.
Foundations as Philanthropic Banks
Burckart managed a body of work related to the New Frontiers project focused on the identification and promotion of best practices for “foundations operating as philanthropic banks.” Burckart undertook in-depth case studies on nine foundations that ranged in size from the $37.4 billion Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the $10.5 million K.L. Felicitas Foundation. With each of these foundations, Burckart conducted in-depth examinations of 2-4 actual investments (31 in total) selected to reveal how the foundation operated its impact investment work. These dimensions are important because together they help to define the risk appetite of the foundation, the balance it is comfortable striking between leveraging its resources for maximum impact now and preserving them for future activity tomorrow.
Evidence, insights, and implications of this work were synthesized into the creation of the “Foundations as Philanthropic Banks” chapter of the book New Frontiers of Philanthropy (Oxford University Press, 2014), as well as an op-ed in The Chronicle of Philanthropy on how "Impact Investing Can Help Foundations Avoid Obsolescence" that Burckart co-authored with Steven Godeke.
From the op-ed: "John D. Rockefeller would never have considered abandoning the oil business. But that is exactly what some of his heirs did last fall. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a family foundation with $860 million in assets and a long history of supporting environmental causes, announced it would divest itself of all fossil-fuel investments. The decision was not just about a family moving away from its legacy but a sign of a broader trend in philanthropy. The conventional approach private foundations have used ever since Mr. Rockefeller created his philanthropy was simple: Invest the assets and then distribute a portion every year. But in today’s world, this structure faces some challenges. The intersection of private wealth and public accountability is more complicated, prompting many in the foundation world to operate in new ways — and with approaches that could eventually turn the entire way philanthropy operates upside down." Read more.