Philanthropic investment funds are far less helpful than they would lead us to believe. This means that investing for the good of humanity needs to follow a different model. Today, we explore a concept called impact investing with Dr. Charly Kleissner, a novel approach he has been developing over the last 20 years that prioritizes impact over returns. Over this time, Charly has started KL Felicitas Foundation, Toniic, and ImpactAssets, three groups that try to orchestrate impact investing in different ways.

This episode takes place in two parts. The first focuses on Charly’s investment philosophy and why he thinks the system is broken and needs an overhaul. In this section, we use the term Deep Ecology as a springboard to understand Deep Impact investing and how it presents an alternative investment model that is not born from an anthropocentric philosophy. We explore why philanthropy and ESG’s actually have a net harmful impact, how social impact bonds and tokenization of impact present a way forward, and the steps Charly’s different companies have taken to get impact investing off the ground.

The second section of the show dives into the other half of the equation, a consciousness revolution Charly believes needs to happen before humanity can take the steps required to live in a way that benefits rather than harms the planet. For many insights into the world of investing and the channels that exist there as well as inside ourselves, be sure to tune in at one of the links below:

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Key Points From This Episode

What is ‘Deep Impact?’

Charly was inspired by learning the difference between deep ecology and ecology. Deep ecology takes a non-human-centric view of ecology, where humans don’t stand in the center of the universe and have the ability to control the environment or others. Deep impact is defined as a way of creating systemic change with your investments with consciousness and awareness which doesn’t make you special.

Why Bill Gates is wrong

Bill Gates is scaling an old philanthropy model that doesn’t work. US law and tax exemption status is such that foundations have to give out 5% of their endowments to sources like grants, but 95% is static and can go to whatever you want. Bill is investing 95% in things that will give higher returns. If your foundation is for climate change but 95% of your investment goes to Exxon Mobil, it’s harmful. Charly’s model is a holistic approach with 100% investment, ensuring all of the foundation’s assets are invested in deeper impact.

Ask your bank where your money goes

The money you put in the bank doesn’t just sit there — banks fund other industries. If you don’t want your money funding things like the weapons industry or the oil industry, investigate where the money goes. If you don’t like it, there are alternatives like Southern Bancorp, which invests in the community. There isn’t any risk, you’re just changing where your money sits. (You can look for other alternatives on the Global Alliance for Banking on Values)

How mindfulness affects your investments

Charly encourages everyone to find a mindfulness practice that works for them. It helped him find his path from Silicon Valley to Impact Investing, changed his mindset when he was diagnosed with cancer, and much more. But in terms of investing, it helps you connect with yourself and the world in a deeper way, such that your investments are not led by your brain but rather your soul. Focusing less on what you gain from investment can lead to more impactful investments, which is what is done in different ways at his organizations KLF, Toniic, and ImpactAssets.


“Deep impact, I define similarly to deep ecology, as a way of doing systemic change with your investments based on a consciousness and awareness that does not make you special.” — @CharlyKleissner[0:03:03]

“We didn’t believe that the pure investment model or the pure philanthropy model would be appropriate for us because it was too simplistic.” — @CharlyKleissner[0:09:00]

“Even if all the hundred trillion dollars of institutional capital would move into ESGs, I would submit that it would have zero positive effect on solving the big issues of our times — inequality, social justice, and accelerating climate change mitigation and solutions.” — @CharlyKleissner[0:18:15]

“To believe that the venture capital model would be the appropriate model for the impact economy is a fallacy, and therefore we need to invent a new way of investing in the impact economy that goes beyond the venture capital into private equity.” — @CharlyKleissner[0:27:16]

“If you practice your mindfulness, you will predictably become more mindful which will then have an impact on your life.” — @CharlyKleissner[0:42:36]

Coming Up Next

Next week we have guest Alison Teal, “The Female Indiana Jones.” She’s been traveling the world with a pink surfboard to raise awareness for certain issues and create educational and entertaining content for how we can live in harmony with the Earth. Be sure to subscribe on our website so you don’t miss her crazy stories, and drop a review so we can continue to improve. See you next week!

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode

Karl “Charly” Kleissner on LinkedIn
KL Felicitas Foundation (KLF)
Steve Jobs
The Bill Gates Foundation
Southern Bancorp
Global Alliance for Banking on Values
Proof of Impact
Alison Teal