“Abundance: Oranges” by Kevin Sloan/

In recent years, it has been exciting to observe all the innovative activity at the intersection of investment and philanthropy. Still, I am frustrated—for after all is said and done, the leaders and adherents of this movement (for simplicity’s sake, let’s call them “conscious investors”) are almost as cognitively constrained as the most traditional investor. They allow two strands of old-fashioned thinking to limit their innovations and ultimate effectiveness.

First, they remain largely stuck in silos established by the tax code, corporate identities, and the public/private company distinction. Second, their work is circumscribed by a set of limiting fiscal “truths” emanating from professional schools.

These strands prevent them, and the rest of us, from analyzing the world and the work of its enterprises as they really are.1 More importantly, they keep us from investing and granting as intelligently and farsightedly as we must for our communities and global society to achieve their potentials.

This article contends that it is time for conscious investors to think very different