Multimedia: From Social Program to Social Enterprise

Heron’s Clara Miller joins Sal Giambanco of Omidyar at the Vatican’s 2016 Impact Investing Conference to discuss support for enterprises as the vehicle of impact.


The Vatican held its second annual Impact Investing Conference inJune, inviting experts in the field to talk about modern strategies for helping the poor in this "Year of Mercy". Heron’s Clara Miller spoke on a panel discussing the needed transition in how we view the nonprofit enterprises that are executing and managing the programs creating social change.

Clara: … We have an enterprise orientation and investors are fond of having an asset class orientation that kind of hides what’s going on underneath. But we say to ourselves, the impact is happening at the level of the enterprise really and the people there, and that’s hidden in most investments. So if you strip away that and you say "let’s invest at the level of the enterprise," then if you become clear about how money works as a tool. It’s very empowering for everybody in both managing and leading nonprofits and for-profits and on putting your money behind them.

Clara: …The role of capital can improve that value through change which includes growth, better efficiency, better quality and better outcomes for the folks we’re talking about.

Clara: I think that among the managers in the U.S.—nonprofit managers—I would put them, in terms of resourcefulness and skill, against anybody in the for-profit sector… I think the idea of source of revenue is a red herring. You know, Raytheon Corporation probably gets 100 percent of it’s revenue from the federal government just like the folks who serve the poor. The difference is they get 800 cents on the dollar and nonprofits get 53 cents on the dollar. It's very hard to manage against that.

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