On 17 January 2023, Professor Gian Paolo Barbetta from the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore spoke to Dr. Rupert Graf Strachwitz about his work on foundations and impact investment.
Firstly, Professor Barbetta raised the question of how to define concepts such as ‘philanthropy’ and ‘impact.’ He then explained that the webinar would focus on grant-making foundation models (organisations with an endowment that use their income to support the ‘common good.’ His approach to defining impact is counter-factual. In other words, it concerns itself with the causal link between an action and a change in the world.
Estimating impact is crucial for foundations looking to innovate. It enables them to understand the effect of their work on other actors and whether they are achieving their aims. Professor Barbetta questioned whether failures risk a foundation’s legacy.
Further points of discussion were the fact that foundations should act as knowledge developers to solve social needs and that they should specialise in supporting systematic evaluations of public and private policies to obtain evidence of ‘what works.’
The event was part of our series ,,Reihe: Theorie der Zivilgesellschaft” (Civil Society Theories). Professor Barbetta’s research will shortly be published in npoR, a journal edited by the Institute for Nonprofit and Philanthropy Law at the Bucerius Law School in Hamburg.