This April, thought leaders gathered at Make It Better’s third annual Money, Values & Impact summit to share their thoughts about how to maximize social impact without sacrificing capital gains. Convening at Chicago’s Four Seasons Hotel, the curated lineup of presenters spoke to some 170 attendees, including investors and civic leaders, about the changing landscape of sustainable finance and impact investing.

Speaker Eric Weinheimer summed up the evening’s message — that impact investing should be a deliberate and thoughtful process that can reap great rewards — by quoting the business magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie: “It is more difficult to give money away intelligently than to earn it in the first place.”

That was indeed the theme of the evening, as the summit’s six speakers shared real-world stories and offered strategies that aim to make a difference while boosting returns. Here are some of the highlights:

Steve Austin

Managing Director & Regional Director, Morgan Stanley

“It only makes sense to make sure that you put your money to reflect correctly with the values that you live every day. There are people who specialize in that type of investing, and they can provide you that framework and that road map to go into a very robust investment process that’s not going to have any type of sacrifice when it comes to how well you do from a return perspective.”

Melanie Sabelhaus

Vice Chair, American Red Cross

“We have to be good stewards, we have to invest it in our community, we have to invest it for our families. Ladies, you are the most powerful voice there is in philanthropy. You are making the decisions. You are calling the shots, and that’s significant. You invest your time, your talent, and your treasure.”

Kathy Roeser

Managing Director & Wealth Advisor, Morgan Stanley

“What is happening is transformational. By 2025, in this country we will have the largest workforce being millennials and they will make up 75 percent of this workforce. And they think about investing differently. They approach investing with a lens with filters for social impact.”

Carla Harris

Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Morgan Stanley

“Almost every company across industries … they think about the fact that things are transitioning from having three constituencies now to four. It used to be, from a corporate perspective, the three constituencies you had were your shareholders, your customers, and your employees. Now there’s a fourth constituency called community. They now realize that they have a responsibility to take care of some of society’s ills. If you are an investor, you can customize this by looking at companies that try to do what you value.”

Steven Zick

Senior Vice President & Director, Christie’s

Speaking about Christie’s recent charity auction of David and Peggy Rockefeller’s art collection: “If there was ever a case of passion and doing good coinciding, this was a wonderful case. The Rockefellers were old school. They bought things because they loved them. They were exposed to a vast array of cultures and artistic forms of expression, so they were open to a great deal. It’s an investment that can do good. Not all of us can be Rockefellers, but all of us can have fun while we’re investing in art.”

Eric Weinheimer

President & CEO, Forefront

“You want to provide flexible and reliable funding. Folks, give general operating funding so the leaders can allocate where the needs are. We need to listen to the nonprofits that are doing this work every day. They have the expertise. We need to trust what they say needs to be done in order for you to get the results that you want to get through your philanthropy.”

 

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Susan Pasternak has worked as a journalist for more than two decades, reporting and writing on myriad subjects ranging from national health care policy to personal finance to head lice. Her work has been published in numerous consumer and business publications. Susan lives with her husband, three children, and dog Roxy in Highland Park. She also volunteers with Working Together, a Highwood/Highland Park organization that provides enrichment opportunities to under-resourced children in the community.

 

 

 

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