Jennifer Oertel serves as the Impact Investing Expert in Residence at the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF). In this episode, she and I dig into impact investing, conscious capitalism and shareholder activism. Jennifer also addresses the common misperception that investments made with social good in mind don’t produce market rate returns.
Jennifer explained impact investing vs. traditional grantmaking to us like this: “You can make a charitable grant and hope to generate social impact. However, it is a negative return for you—you’re not getting that money back. If you make an impact investment requiring a return of your money, or a return on your money, you can create social impact and recharge your giving pot to do more.”
Topics discussed in this episode:
- Meet Jennifer (2:05)
- The definition of impact investing (3:17)
- How to start a conversation about impact investing (5:39)
- CMF’s Impact Investing Collaborative (13:29)
- The challenges of impact investing (16:38)
- Why this tool, especially for philanthropic organizations? (21:58)
- How do you identify good opportunities? (25:50)
- How do you manage unsolicited requests? (31:28)
- What does success look like? (33:47)
- Lessons learned (36:15)
- Favorite resources (44:23)
- How to find Jennifer (46:18)
- Bonus questions (47:18)
- The wrap up (58:21)
Jennifer Miller Oertel is a shareholder in the law firm of Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss, PC, where she leads the firm’s Tax-exempt Organizations and Impact Investing Group. With a background in securities law, private equity and mergers & acquisitions, Jennifer utilizes her corporate law and governance skills to assist family and corporate foundations, community foundations, public charities, regional associations, trade and labor associations, chambers of commerce, religious organizations and other tax-exempt organizations as well as impact investors, impact funds, and social enterprises, in all aspects of their business.
Jennifer serves as co-chair of the Nonprofit Corporations Committee (Business Law Section) of the State Bar of Michigan, which holds the responsibility of reviewing and updating the state’s laws governing nonprofit corporations in addition to reviewing legislation that regulates the solicitation of charitable contributions.
The Council of Michigan Foundations appointed Jennifer in 2017 as the first-ever Expert In Residence to lead efforts to further develop and support Michigan’s impact investing ecosystem, and she has also been engaged by a national organization to design a framework to advance the impact investing ecosystem across the country.
Notable & Quotable:
Impact investing uses business to create social good —Jennifer Oertel, #successfulgenerations #philanthropy #familyphilanthropy #impactinvesting
Impact investments are at the intersection of philanthropy and capitalism. —Jennifer Oertel, #successfulgenerations #philanthropy #familyphilanthropy #impactinvesting
It’s a myth that you have to sacrifice market rate returns to create positive social impact through your investments. —Jennifer Oertel, #successfulgenerations #philanthropy #familyphilanthropy #impactinvesting
As investors, we have to take ownership of what we own. —Jennifer Oertel, #successfulgenerations #philanthropy #familyphilanthropy #impactinvesting
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Global Impact Investing Network
- The Michigan Collaborative
- Jennifer’s curated list of resources
- Max and Marjorie Fisher Foundation
- World Economic Forum
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