A guide for the innovative philanthropist: medicine, technology and a greener future

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A guide for the innovative philanthropist: medicine, technology and a greener future

Dr Maximilian Martin - Global Head of Philanthropy

Dr Maximilian Martin

Global Head of Philanthropy

Philanthropy is changing and we are now asking ourselves how we should redefine what the common good is. How can philanthropists’ best interact with the different strands of society? How can individual innovations help?


How can philanthropists best interact with the different strands of society? How can individual innovations help?

In order to test out new ideas before moving them to the core of a foundation's programme, there are new structures to help – for example, donor advised or sheltered fund-like structures are an effective way to innovate and test. Such incubation spaces can exist alongside an established grant-making foundation.

At Lombard Odier, we have developed a multi-step approach to design and deliver a bespoke philanthropic strategy and a comprehensive suite of services to help turn aspirations into action.


Building the new innovation infrastructure for philanthropy

To secure greater social impact, it will be crucial to deploy sound empirical evidence and to harness the “everyone-an-innovator” attitude. To smooth this transition involves adopting more flexible philanthropic infrastructures such as the donor advised fund (DAF). This is a vehicle for charitable giving that uses the status of the public charity where it is hosted in order to manage in a modular way charitable donations on behalf of individuals, families or organisations.

Compliance and regulation are constantly changing and present new challenges for philanthropists. New imperatives require more effort when donors support projects outside the safe community of large, well-known NGOs. This provides a natural opening for all those service providers who routinely stay abreast of new such regulatory developments, namely financial institutions.

To secure greater social impact, it will be crucial to deploy sound empirical evidence and to harness the “everyone-an-innovator” attitude

As philanthropists recognise the current disruptive transformation of the social, political and economic context, they seek to find novel ways to explore issues and solutions from a fresh angle. Their shared goal is to weigh in on the drivers of social change in ways that have a realistic chance to up the ante in the pursuit of the common good - often by experimenting with new approaches.

From an “everyone-an-innovator” perspective in philanthropy in pursuit of the common good, the logical conclusion is simple: just as venture funds invest in start-ups, philanthropists are well advised to make systematic use of DAF-like structures that are nimble enough to test new ideas without immediately having to move them on to the main shelf of the foundation's programme.

Making the scientific revolution work for patients: impact theses on oncology

Cancer research and treatment has consistently benefitted from donors. Due to a combination of scientific advances, availability of new technologies and fresh perspectives on how to tackle the illness, cancer may in our lifetime finally join the ranks of other chronic diseases that are manageable. But heavy investment in research is necessary.

Advances in genomics will enable the personalisation of cancer treatment, and 3D cell printing will provide the necessary organoid generation capability.

Meanwhile, the implications of the wider technology and Big Data revolution for the oncology space are another important driver of progress.

The costs of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including cancer to health systems, businesses and individuals, are significant and continue to grow; higher out-of-pocket spending is not an option for all patients. The combination of low efficacy and high treatment cost calls for the design of new approaches to optimise resource use in the healthcare system. Unsurprisingly, there is a trend toward new financing strategies in the oncology space, such as instalment-based payment options for high-cost cancer treatments, or results-based financing where price incentives are linked to measured patient outcomes achieved. This is bound to disrupt the business models of the pharmaceutical industry incumbents going forward.

Philanthropy can help accelerate [momentum] and make it work for cancer patients irrespective of income

The fresh scientific momentum in oncology is unmistakeable on a number of fronts. Philanthropy can help accelerate it, and make it work for cancer patients irrespective of income. The promise is enormous.


Scaling up ocean protection

Next to policy and philanthropy, the way forward to protect our oceans is investing in companies that embrace climate and resource efficiency. Economic and reputational incentives for industries that have traditionally been major ocean polluters to graduate from a “take, make, dispose” manufacturing model to a regenerative system where resource input and waste, emission, and energy leakage are minimised is a logical next step.

The cures for our greatest maladies may lie beneath the waves

The cures for our greatest maladies may lie beneath the waves. Our chances of discovering any one of those cures reduces with every species we lose. The time to turn the tide is now – through targeted philanthropy, and by adopting a “pharm-ecology” view in capital markets.


Rules of thumb for effective development philanthropy

Social change and development are multi-faceted, and so are the interventions with the highest likelihood to bring about targeted results. Done well, philanthropy can help revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development by providing the seed capital for new partnerships between governments, the private sector and civil society.

This can drive the emergence of new approaches and solutions in critical sectors such as sustainable energy, infrastructure and transport, as well as information and communications technologies.

There is however no “one size fits all” for philanthropists who are, or want to become, active in development.

Being systematic without being dogmatic helps to marry passion, strategy, and structure in ways that drive real progress on the ground.

Important information

This document is issued by Bank Lombard Odier & Co Ltd or an entity of the Group (hereinafter “Lombard Odier”). It is not intended for distribution, publication, or use in any jurisdiction where such distribution, publication, or use would be unlawful, nor is it aimed at any person or entity to whom it would be unlawful to address such a document. This document was not prepared by the Financial Research Department of Lombard Odier.

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