Social Impact Investing: Don Shaffer on Bridging the Gap Between Capitalism & Altruism
August 11, 2015
Originally published on Planet Experts
How does money shape the world? Don Shaffer has been thinking about that for a long time, ever since his very first job carrying golf bags for Wall Street traders.
Shaffer was 14-years-old, working as a caddy in New Jersey, and he would ask the men what exactly they did for a living. “It was a really jarring experience for me,” Shaffer told Planet Experts. “I would ask these guys what they did and there would always be a pause, like, ‘What am I going to say to this 14-year-old kid about what I do in terms of derivatives and leverage buyouts?’ And that was confusing to me because these were the people who were making all the money and had most of the power in society, and yet they couldn’t even explain to me in layman’s terms what they actually did for a living.”
It was a “catalytic event” for the young Shaffer, who resolved to learn how the financial system works and who it really serves. Today, he’s actively working towards an era that has freed itself of what he calls “Wall Street domination.”
Since 2007, Shaffer has been the President and CEO of RSF Social Finance, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that is building a financial platform to empower social enterprises (effectively functioning like a bank and a foundation combined). They’re taking the long view in terms of ventures that benefit not only the bottom line but the Earth and society as a whole. Last week, RSF purchased $9 million in solar bonds from SolarCity.
“The solar bonds provide an opportunity for RSF and like-minded individuals and organizations to earn an attractive financial return while helping SolarCity expand its use of the sun’s clean energy to reduce our society’s dependence on fossil fuels for power generation,” Joe Avenatti, RSF’s senior director of investments, said in a press release.