The driving principles behind investment and philanthropic strategies have historically been unrelated, but we are beginning to see a convergence of these themes.

We often say that “philanthropy is biography” and this also stands true for investing. Both are inspired by what the investor cares about, how they want to influence the world they live in, and the legacy they want to leave for their own family and the world at large.

Investors are increasingly looking to align their investment portfolios with their preferences and interest in sustainability. They are wanting to utilize both investment and philanthropic strategies to contribute to, or even drive, improvement in measurable ways.

The impact continuum

Two parallel tracks that interweave purpose, values and intention create an “impact continuum” of choices. While the continuum is a framework that illustrates the similarities across both investing and philanthropy, it is not meant as an either/or proposition. Each point on the continuum serves a specific purpose and one could end up with any combination. Incorporating a variety of both investment and philanthropic tools may help you achieve your goals more holistically and completely.

Red dotted circle divided by black line with the words Investing and Philanthropy on either side with a description of the “impact continuum”

Considering both these “tracks” in parallel allow you as the investor to incorporate what is important and how you want to deploy your capital.

View UBS Trending conversation with New Continuum authors Nicole T. Sebastian, CAP®, Senior Strategist, UBS Family Advisory and Philanthropy Services Americas and UBS Family Office Solutions and Amantia Muhedini, Sustainable and Impact Investing Strategist, UBS Global Wealth Management

Why align around impact?

Why do families consider impact or sustainability in their giving and investing? The reasons vary and are often deeply personal.

Some have a personal connection to a specific theme, issue or geography. Others are hoping to create a legacy that will have a lasting positive impact. And others seek to embed themes that matter—to themselves, to people and planet, and to their portfolios—into how all their capital is deployed to minimize risks and maximize opportunities.

While motivations can differ, we believe considering both tracks of philanthropy and investing is appropriate for all investors who are interested in social or environmental topics.

For example, investors or philanthropists may want to finance innovative forms of renewable energy because they are interested in helping to address climate change. And early stage philanthropic, venture or growth equity financing can help additional technologies that support global decarbonization goals become viable—creating positive ripple effects for everyone.

Getting started

How can you think about which tools from your philanthropy and investing toolbox to utilize as you consider how to advance your passions, preferences and goals?
Here are three steps to get you started:

  1. Articulate your preferences and objectives: To identify the causes that are most important to you and your family, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can provide a helpful starting point. Health, climate change and education are some of the top impact investing initiatives among global family offices.
  2. Understand your options in both investing and philanthropy; In addition to sustainability challenges, consider how these challenges are reflected in your portfolios. For example, if you are focused on water scarcity, your preference may be on how to preserve water or how to ensure that the companies you invest in properly manage this resource or both. Each would have its own set of implementation approaches.
  3. Develop a plan to deploy your capital. Identify the main objectives for each sustainability issue you care about and each capital pool you are utilizing. Different objectives will point to different ideas for your investments and philanthropy, and often these ideas can work in concert with each other.

At the forefront of positive change

At a time when funding for environmental and societal challenges is simultaneously insufficient and urgent, the range of ways that capital can be deployed to address these needs is growing rapidly. There are now many more options than simply providing philanthropic grant capital or excluding companies in sectors such as gambling or alcoholic beverages from investment portfolios. New and emerging solutions give you the option of being more strategic with your philanthropy or building sustainable investment portfolios without sacrificing market returns.

At UBS, we are at the forefront of developing these new pathways to impact. We have prioritized this as an area of growth for our business and are developing innovative mechanisms for you to achieve your philanthropic and impact objectives. And we are among several organizations around the world aiming to collectively develop frameworks and solutions that attract more capital for tackling environmental and societal challenges at scale.


Dive deeper

Learn more about the growing convergence between investing and philanthropy and how it can help you create a lasting impact.

Connect with us

Our Private Wealth Management offices are located in various cities throughout the US. If you would like to explore how Private Wealth Management may serve you and your family’s needs, please contact one of our offices.