Unlocking the benefits of venture philanthropy

Green Templeton Lectures 2023

Thursday 23 February 2023   18:00 to 19:00


Dr Josh Yates, Executive Director, Belmont Innovation Labs for Social Impact at Belmont University in Nashville, United States

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About the lecture

This lecture and discussion will explore the evolving area of practice of so-called venture philanthropy – a form of impact investing and blended finance – and why it is important. The speaker will examine criticisms of this approach to philanthropy and explain why acknowledging them doesn’t take away from the fact that philanthropy and government spending cannot by themselves tackle the complex social and environmental challenges facing the world.

Dr Josh Yates will argue that future challenges in fact require efforts of personal and community wealth building that will only occur when the distinctive talents of venture philanthropy are unlocked. Venture philanthropy has a vital part to play in catalysing public and private capital, initiating its strategic deployment for systemic impact, and in fostering capital with a tenacious commitment to working at the frontier of practice over generational time horizons. This is a role that philanthropy as a field has only begun to understand and practice and where building a rigorous evidentiary basis could prove transformative.

About the speaker

Josh Yates Headshot In Shirt And JacketDr Josh Yates is Executive Director of the Belmont Innovation Labs for Social Impact at Belmont University in Nashville, United States. He weaves together over two decades of academic research, community development practice, and social entrepreneurship to advance the cause of evidence-based social innovation to help regions thrive.

He has published widely, including two pioneering surveys: the Field Guide for Urban University-Community Partnerships (2019), examining the role that universities and colleges play to advance the wellbeing of their home communities; and The Enterprise Solutions to Poverty Field Guide (2022), mapping the evolving field of faith-based impact investing and enterprise solutions to poverty.

Dr Yates is the former Director the Ormond Center for Thriving Congregations and Communities at Duke University, Faculty Fellow at the Banff Center for Arts and Creativity, and Director of the Thriving Cities Lab at the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture.

About the series

The Green Templeton Lectures 2023 are exploring whether philanthropy has a problem with evidence under the umbrella ‘Seeing is believing’. They are convened by Principal Sir Michael Dixon and Associate Fellow Caroline Greenhalgh.


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Contact the Academic Projects team for further information about this event and Associate Fellow Caroline Greenhalgh for information about the lecture series and work in this area.

Type: Lectures and Seminars