- Suffocating artifice
- “The power attached to the money”
- Who’s getting paid?
- A network of global funders
- Rose Longhurst
- Isis Amlak
- Sophie Pritchard
- Connecting the dots
- The implications
- The future
“There remains nothing, in culture or in nature, which has not been transformed, and polluted, according to the means and interests of modern industry”, wrote Guy Debord in his superb 1988 book Commentaires sur la société du spectacle.
He warned darkly of “provocation, infiltration, and various forms of elimination of authentic critique in favour of a false one which will have been created for this purpose”.
Today this manufactured astroturf “dissent” covers practically the whole political and cultural terrain, with only tiny green shoots of authenticity able to occasionally break through the plastic carpet of suffocating artifice.
It will not, perhaps, have come as much of a surprise to clued-up anti-capitalists and anarchists to learn that the Global Shapers movement set up by the World Economic Forum does not really represent the views of the the world’s youth but of big business networks pushing the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Likewise, there is something predictable about the way the impact capitalism promoted by Tony Blair’s banker Ronald Cohen uses the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to lend a cloak of apparent virtue to its profiteering efforts.
Left-wingers will not have felt unduly perturbed to hear that Rob Hopkins of the Transition Towns movement, never noted for cutting-edge radicalism, has been receiving an annual stipend from shady social impact organisation Ashoka and blatantly promotes the Great Reset agenda.
Exinction Rebellion was always a bit on the fluffy side, cosying up to the police and pushing a “we’re all in it together” message, so it was not too much of a leap to accept that it is a creature manufactured by climate capitalists hoping to get rich from a fake-green “transition”.
A few feathers were no doubt ruffled by the revelation that Guerrilla Foundation, funders of Extinction Rebellion but also dozens of other “activist” groups, also belong to the world of impact capitalism.
But any anti-capitalists worth their salt know that there is a strict limit to this ideological contamination.
Once you move into the sphere of real full-on social justice activists and self-defined anarchists, the sort of people prepared to take direct action for revolutionary change, there is no way that they could be secretly funded by big business interests.
The idea that they could be connected in any way to impact capitalism, to Bill Gates, Ronald Cohen or the WEF’s Global Shapers could only be the invention of the most deluded of conspiracy theorists, couldn’t it?
Searching back through old emails, I came across a message dating from October 3, 2013, which had been forwarded on a list for UK anarchists.
It read: “We’ve always said we wanted to reach groups that don’t normally hear about funding opportunities so whilst we use the normal fundraising websites etc we also rely on people who can help us spread the word on the ground. At some point someone mentioned to you that Edge Fund was open for applications – can you be that person for someone else please?
“If you know any groups that need funding for their work to bring about justice and equality, especially those who perhaps do not use the internet very much and may not hear about us otherwise, please let them know we might be able to support their work”.
It was signed Sophie Pritchard for Edge Fund.
So what is Edge Fund? Its website states: “Edge Fund is a grant-making body with a difference. We support efforts to achieve social, economic and environmental justice and to end imbalances in wealth and power – and give those we aim to help a say in where the money goes.
“Learn more about our unique model of funding which is not just about giving money away, but also the power attached to the money”.
A post from May 18 2015, now only available on web archives, says that Edge Fund supports groups “taking action for a just, equitable and sustainable world”.
“Equitable” and “sustainable” are both words that ring alarm bells for anyone who has delved into the world of impact capitalism and they made me want to look deeper into Edge Fund.
This task was not totally straightforward, as they have evidently been doing a bit of online housekeeping of late and a lot of pages no longer exist on their actual website.
This key page of links, for instance, entitled ‘What We Fund’, was last seen on November 25 2020, a few days after Winter Oak published an investigation into fellow activist-funders Guerrilla Foundation.
But visitors to their site can still read about their Funding Values.
Here they say they “create opportunities for people and groups to build alliances with each other, and particularly those they might not normally cross paths with, and to share their learning and experiences”.
This immediately reminded me of Guerrilla Foundation’s role of facilitating “unlikely collaborations” between activists and the world of high finance, even paying the former to attend a capitalist Impact Hub “Unlikely Allies” event.
Edge Fund says it is committed to “removing as many barriers to funding as possible”, such as “activists being regarded as ‘too radical’” because they are “looking for real and lasting radical change”.
It explains: “We are an alternative fund for groups who find that traditional sources of funding are closed to them due to their radical approach… Edge Fund is a pioneering, innovative project. We are willing to take risks in our structures and processes as well as in our funding decisions. We aim to be fluid and dynamic”.
Recent versions of Edge Fund’s ‘Previous Grants’ seem to be have been redacted, so I have supplemented current information with an archived version from May 2020 to get a fuller picture of where their money is going.
There are a couple of big names in there, including Black Lives Matter UK, which was awarded £3,000 by Edge Fund in July 2017.
Says the entry: “In Britain, there is a tendency to see racism as something that happens on the other side of the Atlantic. Through their work, they aim to challenge that view, and open up conversations about racism in Britain today. They strive to challenge the structural racism reproduced by the British state through community organising, education and peaceful direct action”.
Another big hitter is Rising Up, the network behind Extinction Rebellion, which received £1,500.
We learn: “Rising Up are focused on system change through non-violent uprising (knowing that is ridiculously ambitious!). They deliberately don’t identify with a particular political orientation (e.g. anarchist or socialist) because they believe in creating the conditions for genuine dialogue / participation rather than imposing pre-determined models”.
Rather worryingly, given my concerns about the influence of impact capitalism, one of Edge Fund’s grantees is called Positive Impact Community (“campaigning for justices for young people, predominantly those who are East african, and refugees who are facing deportation”).
Quite a lot of the groups that have received Edge Fund money since 2012 are involved in issues around race or refugees, such as the Brighton & Hove Black Women’s Group, the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (“Support their integration into their new societies”) or The Ubele Initiative (“an African Diaspora social action focused organisation” focused on “intergenerational leadership and social action processes”).
There is also PAC45 Foundation in Manchester, which works “to create spaces and opportunities for the Black community to comprehend, articulate and challenge the racist practices that lead to a life of exclusion in our so-called post-racial society”.
Taking a more pro-active position are Speaking Statues (“repurpose and subvert the ways in which these white supremacist symbols exist in our society with very little challenge”) and Mixed Race Families Scotland (“challenges the social acceptance of Blackface for Halloween and other regional festival and cultural celebrations such as ‘Up Helly Aa'”).
There are also several groups involved with gypsy, Roma and traveller issues such as Travellers and Roma Against Prejudice, United Europe Roma, Hampshire’s Romanys and Kushti Bok.
Other recipients are focused on mental health, such as Recovery in the Bin (“a group of Mental Health Survivors and their supporters”), Phoenix in Leicester (“a collective of working class mental health survivors”) and Empowering Renewal UK (“Sustainable activism and radical mental health in the UK”).
Feminism is represented, such as by Feminist Webs (“campaigning to challenge sexism and develop a fairer world for young women and girls through liberatory youth work”).
Transgenderism features prominently, for example with TransActual (“amplify the voices of trans people”), Childcare Collective in Glasgow (“women, non-binary identifying, and trans-masculine folk”), London Trans+ Pride (“actively opposing any transphobic legislation”), and CliniQ in London, a “holistic, wellbeing service set up by the trans community for the trans community” which is “providing resilience strengthening community-level programmes”.
There is also Open Lavs, which is apparently “a practical, online tool for finding non-binary (gender neutral) loos across the UK”.
But Edge Fund clearly has a special liking for projects which invest in victims suffering from more than one element of oppression or domination.
Here are some examples of funded groups boasting this identity politics “intersectionality”:
African Rainbow Family. “Run horizontally by LGBTIQ people seeking aslyum and refugees with lived experiences of persecution based on their sexuality, gender identities, religion, race, ethnicity, disability”.
Association of Black Parents of Disabled Children. “Make sure their voices be amplified, and their needs considered”.
Sex Worker Open University. “Working to end state and societal violence against all sex workers, and to dismantle the structures of oppression through which many sex workers face compounded violence: such as transmisogyny, racism and xeno-racism, classism and homophobia”.
Beyond Bars. “Queer and trans prison abolitionists who send books and other educational materials to LGBTQAI+ people who are incarcerated”.
Ffena – Black Women Living with HIV. “Building social capital”.
Global Majority Network. “A coalition of black, brown and diaspora people, including migrants, LGBTQ+ people, Muslims and revolutionaries from different campaigning and community groups”.
LGBT Unity, Scotland. “The only place in Scotland where the space is held solely for LGBTQ asylum seekers and allies to come together”.
Phillippa Willitts. “The intersections of disability, race, class, sexuality and gender identity”.
Sisters of Frida. “They would like to build a sisterhood, a circle of disabled women to discuss, share experiences and explore intersectional possibilities”.
Just Books – Belfast Solidarity Centre. “Providing people at the receiving end of intersecting oppressions the resources to resist”.
Lesbian Immigration Support Group. “They challenge myths about LGBT people and about asylum seekers and refugees”.
6 Rang. “A group of concerned Iranian lesbian individuals”.
Queer AF Brighton. “Formed in response to the rise of racism and transphobia in the community and beyond”.
Rainbow Noir. “A community group for Black Minority Ethnic (BME) Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer (LGBTQ) people”.
In a testimonial on the Edge Fund site, a representative of Black Lives Matter UK reports their delight at the intersectionality on offer at an Edge Fund meeting in Birmingham on July 15, 2017.
They write: “It was so invigorating to know how much grass routes [sic] work is being done all over the country across the issues of sex worker rights, housing, climate change, LGBTQIA+ rights, mental health, addiction recovery, and racial justice”.
Antifascist groups have also received Edge Fund cash, such as Brighton Antifascists (“part of the South East Antifascist Regional group and also the nationwide Antifascist network”), Leeds Anti-Fascist Network and Berkshire Anti Fascists, who are “more interested in action than political philosophy”.
Edge Fund grants have gone to many groups which are familiar to me and which I have campaigned alongside or had dealings with.
There is the Brighton and Hove Unemployed Workers Centre, Smash IPP, the Black Triangle Campaign, Focus E15, Fuel Poverty Action, Glasgow Autonomous Space, Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh, Liverpool Social Centre Collective/Next to Nowhere, Belfast Solidarity Federation, Peace News Summer Camp, Space Hijackers, Fitwatch, Anti Raids Network, Green and Black Cross, Reel News, Empty Cages Collective, Food Not Bombs London, Haringey Housing Action Group, UK Uncut, Undercover Research Group and the Stop the Arms Fair Coalition.
Money has been given to environmental groups which I have supported, such as the Land Justice Network, Transition Heathrow, Coal Action Network, Rossport Solidarity Camp, Misson Springs anti-fracking camp, Frack Free Upton, The Campaign to Protect Pont Valley, Kirby Misperton Protection Camp, Frack Free South Yorkshire, Frack Free North West, Keep East Lancashire Frack Free, Frack Free Five Valleys, Residents Action on Fylde Fracking, Anti-Fracking Nanas and Fracking Free Ireland.
The London Anarchist Bookfair, which I attended for decades and where I have run various stalls and workshops, is on the Edge Fund list.
Even Stop G8, with which I was heavily involved in 2012-2013 received a “small grant”.
The Edge Fund grant recipients also include Shoal Collective, of which I was a member until a year ago and for whom I wrote a number of reports on the Gilets Jaunes uprising in France. More on that later.
I mention my personal connections not just for the sake of transparency, but to make it clear that I am not coming from a position of a priori hostility to this radical left milieu and that I am not suggesting (how could I?) that people who have been involved in these groups are necessarily “dodgy” or “controlled opposition”.
All I am doing is stating that these organisations are all listed by Edge Fund as having applied for and received financial grants.
When I started researching Edge Fund, it quickly became clear that it is very much part of a broader network which seems a million miles away from the radical left which it helps bankroll.
For instance, in this 2014 report, Edge Fund appears alongside the likes of the Shell Foundation and its contribution to the theme of ‘Balancing funder power’ is listed just before that of ‘100% Impact Investing’ as exemplified by the USA’s KL Felicitas Foundation.
In the report, Edge Fund is praised by Maria Chertok, director of the Russian branch of the Charities Aid Foundation (“We consult with the world’s leading brands. Inspiring, enabling and transforming their purpose into impact”).
It seems that Chertok likes the Edge Fund idea of “balancing funder power” because this is “another new approach to funding”.
Chertok previously worked for the Ford Foundation and is also “a member of the Editorial Board of Alliance magazine“, a publication which we will encounter again later.
Edge Fund also crops up in a 2016 report on ‘Internet Philanthropy in China’ from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) China.
This notes that Edge Fund’s approach allows it to “better target needs and ensure community ownership over the management process” and concludes that “the greatest area for improvement in the management and reporting system lies in ensuring consistent and thorough reporting and performance tracking across organizations”.
The same report also praises the Shell Foundation, noting that it “exemplifies the increasing comprehensiveness of internal evaluations” and that “this kind of transparent and honest evaluation is valuable for the effectiveness of philanthropy more broadly”.
It is difficult, for an outsider, to understand where exactly Edge Fund fits in to this strange and murky world of so-called philanthropic funding.
So I was pleased to discover a 2018 report from Edge Fund’s Influencing Funders Group which helps shed some light.
Explaining its own history, the Group says: “This initiative began to really gather momentum after three members, Sophie Pritchard (Edge co -founder), Isis Amlak and Patrick Boase (Network for Social Change) attended the Funders for a Just Transition meeting in La Bergerie, Paris (14-16 March 2014).
“The meeting was organised by what has since become Edge Funders Alliance Europe. The main objective was for the funders present to share information and to begin exploring possible ways of collaboration.
“In April 2015 we were selected to facilitate a workshop at the EDGE Funders Alliance’s conference, Towards A Just Transition, in Baltimore”.
EDGE Funders Alliance, based in the USA, is not the same entity as Edge Fund in the UK, but is closely linked.
It tags itself “Engaged Donors for Global Equity”, which explains where the “Edge Fund” name comes from, apart from being an obvious pun on ‘Hedge Fund’.
Professor Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research wrote about this US organisation in 2016, saying: “In 2013, the Rockefeller Brothers representative Tom Kruse co-chaired EDGE’s program committee.
“At the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Kruse was responsible for ‘Global Governance’ under the ‘Democratic Practice’ program.
“Rockefeller Brothers grants to NGOs are approved under the ‘Strengthening Democracy in Global Governance’ program, which is broadly similar to that put forth by the US State Department”.
A glance at the programme for the 2015 Baltimore event attended by the UK Edge Fund delegation confirms the Rockefeller connection.
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund is listed as one of the conference’s sponsoring groups, along with the Ford Foundation, Open Society Justice Initiative, the American Jewish World Service, the Wallace Global Fund, Fondation Charles Léopold Mayer, The JMG Foundation and New Venture Fund.
Chossudovsky points out the presence on the EDGE Funders board of a representative of the Open Society Initiative for Europe.
Today, this presence is even more evident, with the board co-chaired by an employee of George Soros’ Berlin-based organisation.
This is of particular interest for my little investigation, because that person is none other than Rose Longhurst of the UK’s very own Edge Fund.
This organisation is funded by Swift Foundation “financial activist” Jen Astone, “an RSF Integrated Capital Fellow focusing on transformative food system investments”, plus an impressive range of individual and institutional donors.
The UK outfit is part of the US-based Global Greengrants organisation whose secretary Katherine Pease is director of impact investing at Cornerstone Capital Investment Advisors and “regularly speaks about the intersection of impact investing and social equity”.
We also learn from the EDGE Funders website: “In 2017 Rose helped to establish FundAction, a participatory fund and platform for European activism” .
FundAction is described as “a new participatory fund making grants for social transformation, organised around a community of activists based in Europe to support social movements working towards a transition to a just and equitable world”.
They explain: “FundAction was born out of conversations between activists and funders at several occasions. At the EDGE Funders Alliance European Retreat in 2016, four foundations (Open Society Initiative for Europe, European Cultural Foundation, Charles Leopold Mayer Foundation and Guerrilla Foundation) decided to pool funding”.
The Guerrilla Foundation presentation of FundAction even features a lovely photo of Edge Fund’s Longhurst running a workshop during an EDGE Funders Alliance Meeting.
Another article mentioning Longhurst’s involvement in FundAction describes the project as “imagining an alternative to the rise of popularism and extremism”.
This is a strange phrase to find associated with an initiative supposedly interested in funding radical change! A fear of “popularism and extremism” is more what you would expect from those interested in protecting the status quo, isn’t it?
The quote in question in fact comes from Longhurst’s profile as an Atlantic Fellow (“for social and economic equity”) – yet another of the many hats she wears!
The Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity programme, based at the International Inequalities Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science, is “building a catalytic, values-led global community of people who are committed to using collective leadership to work towards social and economic justice for all”.
It says it is “empowering a new generation of change-makers, including policy-makers, activists, researchers, practitioners and campaigners, to work together across disciplines, backgrounds and borders”.
Over 20 years, the scheme “will support over 400 Fellows drawn from both the global South and global North” and was “established with a landmark gift from The Atlantic Philanthropies in 2017”.
Atlantic Philanthropies was formed by American tycoon Chuck Feeney in 1982.
Longhurst’s Atlantic Fellows profile also reveals that in 2013 she joined Bond, “the UK network for international development and humanitarian organisations”.
We learn from this organisation’s own site that “Bond’s work is funded by member subscriptions, income generated through paid-for service, and grants, including strategic funding from UK aid through the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation”.
6. Isis Amlak
The chair of Edge Fund is Isis Amlak, a 54-year-old American citizen living in London.
The Edge Fund Annual Review 2017-2018 reveals that she attended an EDGE Funders Alliance conference, with Longhurst, and “spoke on the closing plenary panel”.
Ho’s organisation aims to “organize 18-35 year olds with access to wealth who are among the richest top 10% of individuals or families in the U.S.”. It has been funded by the Ford Foundation and the Kellogg Foundation and provided with New York office space by the Mertz Gilmore Foundation.
Amlak, speaking from 57 minutes in, introduces Edge Fund in the UK to an international audience, declaring: “Our raison d’être is that we recognise that grassroots activist campaigners and social movements are the people who are at the vanguard of seeking to reconfigure society and we are all about systemic change. So we realise that in order to bring about systemic change, to do the work that they’re doing, they need resources”.
She says Edge Fund are pioneers of a “participatory” model of philanthropy, which is now being adopted elsewhere: “It is important to understand that we were established specifically to do this kind of work”.
She adds that the project is about “building a movement and keeping that movement growing”.
Although she is sometimes described as an “anti-racism activist”, Amlak in fact boasts very specific professional expertise.
A profile explains: “Isis’ leadership experience includes successfully managing partnerships, service level agreements (contracts), building effective relationships and liaising with a range of stakeholder groups and audiences, across sectors”.
This information comes from the website of an organisation called Olmec, of which Amlak is a trustee.
Olmec describes itself as “a BME led Social Enterprise which champions race equality through economic and social justice”.
It says: “We support people into jobs, into social businesses and on to Boards. We work as a catalyst for social change”.
The home page of its website is very much focused on Black Lives Matter and it even boasts a whole page dedicated to the “movement”.
But its 2014 report on ‘First Steps in Social Enterprise’ paints a slightly different picture of its allegiances.
For a start the report’s sponsors include those well-known campaigners for “economic and social justice” the City of London and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Furthermore, the language and content of the report makes it quite clear that Olmec belongs to the world of social impact investing, or “impact capitalism” as Sir Ronald Cohen calls it.
For example, under the heading “methodology” it lists “Focus on migrant-led social enterprise”, “Programme Impacts on social housing residents”, “Impacts on Olmec as the delivery organisation” and “Linking First Steps in Social Enterprise case studies with socio-economic impacts”.
The report adds: “Because of its social enterprise perspective, Olmec is able to help migrants to design dynamic organisational structures which embed their community’s social aims, channel surpluses to meet social objectives and foster active stakeholder involvement”.
Olmec go on to describe a “social impact study” carried out by the Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust (HACT) with funding from Affinity Sutton and Catalyst.
They say: “HACT is also working on a pilot microfinance initiative programme to develop viable and scalable micro-loan fund for housing association residents. The pilot is being developed with a number of partners including Community Development Finance Association (CDFA), regional community development finance institutions and Big Society Capital“.
Big Society Capital, is of course, the institution set up by Cohen, the father of impact capitalism.
As Amlak herself once said: “There is also a great deal of suspicion, rightly so, about sources of funding; who are the benefactors/philanthropists behind the scenes? What is the real agenda?”
Sophie Pritchard is, according to the Open Democracy website to which she has contributed, “the coordinator and co-founder of Edge Fund”.
The 44-year-old from Bristol tells the Edge Fund site: “Prior to working in grant-making I mostly worked as a fundraiser for animal rights, environmental and social justice organisations”.
This very much pre-empted the attack on traditional animal agriculture currently being pushed by corporate fake-greens like George Monbiot and the rest of the Great Reset crowd.
“A reduction in beef and pork consumption could cut $20 trillion off the cost of fighting climate change”, declared Pritchard in 2009.
Turning her back on the organic approach to animal welfare, she even publicised a report claiming that “intensive animal farming is better for the environment than extensive farming”.
Pritchard commented: “Whilst farmers and environmental groups battle it out; the truth is clear. When it comes to animal agriculture there isn’t a sustainable, environmentally responsible solution”.
More recently, Pritchard has been coordinator of Bristol Energy Network.
She is also a director of TIGER (Teaching Individuals Gender Equality & Respect), who describe themselves as “intersectional feminists” who want to “encourage young people to question and challenge gender norms, stereotypes and unconscious biases”.
They say: “We strive to improve mental health and well-being through our wide range of training and workshops for schools, youth groups and also businesses, by exploring and challenging the impact that different strands of gender biases and discrimination can have in the school environment and in the workplace. In doing this we aim to push for higher aspiration amongst young people and increase productivity for staff in the workplace”.
Note the use of the word “impact”, the talk of “aspiration” and the confessed aim to “increase productivity”…
In March 2013, seven months before she sent out the Edge Fund email to anarchist groups in the UK, Pritchard was attending an event in London entitled ‘Social Justice Philanthropy Implications for Practice and Policy’, where she spoke on ‘Using philanthropy to promote economic and social inclusion’.
The University of Kent’s (archived) report on the conference features a link to Alliance Magazine, a journal to which Pritchard and Rose Longhurst have both contributed and which takes a keen interest in the work of Edge Fund and the EDGE Funders Alliance.
In a 2017 article for the publication, Longhurst enthuses about “the emergence of innovative forms of charitable giving such as flow funding, impact investing and direct cash transfers”.
She praises FundAction, the initiative she helped set up with financier Antonis Schwarz’s Guerrilla Foundation, as offering “a low-risk way of dipping a toe into new ways of working”.
Pritchard herself wrote a four-page article for Alliance Magazine in September 2013, in which she introduces Edge Fund and cites the work of Global Greengrants Fund of which colleague Longhurst is a director.
Her connection to Alliance goes even deeper as she “discussed questions arising from Alliance magazine’s September 2013 special feature on Philanthropy and Power at the September 2013 Alliance Breakfast Club held in association with Philanthropy Impact“.
He writes: “Sophie Pritchard of the Edge Fund gives an exhilarating tour of a number of philanthropic vehicles in which beneficiaries are involved and sometimes lead the decisions about where money should go.
“This brief article should be a source of great inspiration to us all, and spur innovation in new forms of philanthropy. At NPC we’ve been arguing for a greater focus on outcomes and impact for well over a decade”.
NPC is New Philanthropy Capital, where Lumley leads its work on “innovation, developing new approaches, programmes and ventures” and “developing NPC’s relationships with core funders—philanthropists, foundations and businesses who have a shared commitment to transforming the social sector to achieve its full potential”.
New Philanthropy Capital is listed on Alliance Magazine’s website as one of its official partners, alongside, by a remarkable coincidence, EDGE Funders Alliance and Bond, the Gates-funded network to which Edge Fund’s Longhurst belongs.
Other partners include the China Global Philanthropy Institute, the African Youth Philanthropy Network, the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network and the British Asian Trust, “founded in 2007 by HRH The Prince of Wales” whose “mission is to unlock the potential of disavantaged people in South Asia by maximising the impact and support from the Asian diaspora and beyond”.
There is also the European Venture Philanthropy Association (“creating positive societal impact through venture philanthropy”), the Fondazione Lang Italia (“Strategic Philanthropy to increase the impact of social initiatives”), Philanthropy Impact and Spring Impact.
Another Alliance Magazine partner is the UN Development Programme, famous for its Sustainable Development Goals (a key framework for impact capitalism).
New Philanthropy Capital itself is described as being “a charity think tank and consultancy that occupies a unique position at the nexus between charities and funders, helping them achieve the greatest impact”.
Its website explains that NPC sets out to “create the conditions for impact”, with its ‘Open Impact’ page revelling in the “opportunity” presented by the use of “digital technologies and data” to “break down some of the barriers preventing progress”.
Wherever NPC is mentioned, the term “impact” crops up.
Current director Harvey McGrath said in a 2014 interview: “Drawing on my business background I have always tried to find ways in which you can get leverage and NPC provided that.
“I would have to say that I am particularly pleased with NPC because of the cumulative impact the organisation has had on the sector”.
In fact, NPC, for whom Edge Fund is such a “source of great inspiration”, sometimes actually brands itself “the social impact think tank and consultancy”.
It is, thus, no shock to find that former NPC director (2005 to 2007) Danielle Jeannine Walker Palmour went on to sit on the board of impact capitalist Ronald Cohen’s Big Society Capital between 2011 and 2019.
A name that crops up time and time again when researching the world inhabited by Edge Fund is Lankelly Chase.
For instance, in March 2018 this organisation co-produced and funded, with Edge Fund admirers NPC, a brochure entitled ‘Thinking Big. How to use theory of change for systems change‘.
Lankelly Chase has directly funded Edge Fund activities in recent years. Reports the Edge Fund website: “Following the work of our Influencing Funders group, we received a grant from Lankelly Chase, so that they could learn more about participatory grant making, shadow and support us in our model of participatory, member-led funding. This grant allowed us to run a funding round, 3 sharing forums and a workshop on fundraising for grassroots groups”.
And again: “In August, with the help of a grant from Lankelly Chase, we opened our 11th funding round with over 150 groups applying for funds”.
It was also on Lankelly Chase’s site that Edge Fund’s Rose Longhurst boasted in 2019 that “the work I’m involved in is quite unusual”.
She went on to explain that she had attended a “recent retreat convened by Lankelly Chase”.
Longhurst says that the EDGE Funders Alliance, of which she is co-chair, insists philanthropy “must embrace an alternative praxis” and “create brave and safe spaces”.
She adds: “One such ‘brave and safe space’ was the Lankelly Chase convening. As I emerge from the retreat, I’m galvanised to connect the dots between the local, the national and the global”.
Others might feel “galvanised to connect the dots” regarding the role of Lankelly Chase in the Edge Fund project…
It says it is “working in partnership with people, across the UK, to change the systems that perpetuate severe and multiple disadvantage”.
On July 27, 2017, Lankelly Chase was proud to publish on its website a press release revealing its involvement in the “world’s 1st social impact bond”.
Other investors in this Peterborough Social Impact Bond included the J Paul Getty Jr Charitable Trust, the K L Felicitas Foundation, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Also involved in the scheme, needless to say, was the R&S Cohen Foundation.
Indeed, pioneering impact capitalist Ronald Cohen boasted in his 2020 book Impact: Reshaping Capitalism to Drive Real Change that it had “paid investors 3.1 per cent a year on top of their capital”.
Another dot worth connecting regards Katie Boswell, one of the authors of Langkelly Chase’s ‘Thinking Big’ brochure.
She has written approvingly elsewhere of Edge Fund and the way it has “embraced collective decision-making structures”.
Like Edge Fund coordinator and co-founder Sophie Pritchard, Boswell frequents Alliance Magazine Breakfast Club events.
She wrote after a “great discussion” on feminist philanthropy in December 2019: “So much that philanthropists of all stripes can learn: focus on power & intersectionality, think about how you structure relationships & fund movements, change who makes decisions & who decides what ‘impact’ looks like”.
Just like her colleagues at Edge Fund, she has also written a number of articles for Alliance Magazine.
Boswell is a trustee of The Finance Innovation Lab, under chair Sue Charman, recently retired as head of “Sustainable Business” at WWF-UK and formerly with Barclays Bank. WWF-UK is one of the Finance Innovation Lab’s founding partners.
Fellow trustee and vice-chair David Carrington is “an experienced non-executive board member, adviser and consultant, working with social purpose organisations on governance, income generation and the development of social impact investing” and “a non-executive director of the Impact Investing Institute“.
His profile explains that he is a founder-director and chair of Inspiring Impact and has been a member of the Social Investment Task Force and the Commission on Unclaimed Assets (see here).
Carrington was a director of Cohen’s Big Society Capital from 2012 to 2017. Funny how this organisation keeps cropping up!
He was also a founding director of the Alliance Publishing Trust, publisher of Alliance Magazine, which has been so generous in its support of Edge Fund.
Finance Innovation Lab treasurer is Kate Ormiston Smith, formerly working on “sustainablity” with PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) and now working with Richard Branson’s The B Team.
Boswell herself is employed by NPC, those close collaborators of Lankelly Chase and Edge Fund, where she “works with a range of charities and funders to improve their strategies and maximise their impact”.
Her profile reveals: “As a result of her work, Katie has received several honours and awards, including an RSA Fellowship for her community research work, and the title of Global Shaper at the World Economic Forum”.
She writes: “It is the ‘impact metrics’ that enable the world’s richest to profit off misery. The general idea is that social problems are assigned a cost, which creates an offset that is used to fund ‘evidence-based’ ‘solutions’.”
“Philanthropists, acting on behalf of finance and technology interests, fund academics at elite institutions to formulate ‘human capital’ equations that justify this predatory enterprise”.
This is “wokewashing” hypocrisy of the first order – pretending to be acting in the interests of the very people you are exploiting.
As the result of the research I have detailed above (now summarised in this Twitter thread), I am entirely convinced that Edge Fund is an integral part of this impact capitalism scam.
It stands out from the rest of the impact crowd only because of its particular approach to funding, which enables it to reach beyond charities and other institutions into the world of left-wing and anarchist activism.
When an arm of the capitalist system surreptiously pours money into networks which are often avowedly anti-capitalist, there is obviously a question of control at stake.
Up until very recently I would have said it was simply about taking control of radical groups and networks to ensure they present no real threat to the system.
There is certainly this element. By diverting radicals’ attention and energy into the dead-end narcissism of identity politics, the 0.01% ensure that their own domination is not challenged.
Firstly, this compromised left actively promotes and amplifies the causes and ideologies favoured by the wealthy elite, namely those calling for a more “inclusive” capitalist system.
Secondly it enforces this “new normal” way of thinking within what used to be the anti-capitalist movement, taking on a “thought police” function in shaming and excluding all those radicals who refuse to toe the line.
This is why the “woke” die-hards never seem prepared to discuss the issues, or to “agree to disagree” like most of us are prepared to do with comrades.
Their job is to impose a particular, very narrow, way of thinking and so they jump to insult and intimidation to try and get their way, with no interest in consensual compromise.
It seems very telling to me that many of the people and groups imposing “politically correct” identity politics also turned their back on any questioning of the climate capitalist agenda, dismissing all such analysis as “conspiracy theories”.
I have had some personal experience of this, not least with Shoal Collective, a group funded by Edge Fund (and other similar organisations), to which I belonged until a year ago.
My exit from Shoal (Shexit?) began at a meeting in north London on December 4 2019 at which I said that I wanted to keep working with Shoal, but did not want to be censored in any way.
Pushed for an example of the kind of censorship I had in mind, I cited, on the spur of the moment, the absurd gender-politics insistence that there is no difference between trans women and women born as women, or indeed between trans men and men born as men.
This was a fairly hypothetical issue, in fact, as I had never really dealt with gender issues in my writing. But as a matter of principle around free speech it felt important.
My point of view was not acceptable to my comrades, who, despite my insistence that I had no problems with trans people on a real-life individual basis and that my objections were on the level of simple common sense logic, declared me guilty of “transphobia”.
One of them replied (December 8 2019): “I remain unconvinced by the argument that trans movements are driven and shaped by the interests of corporations. In my view they are grassroots movements by an oppressed section of society. These movements are bringing about a major change of people’s mindsets about gender. Something I think is incredibly important, and revolutionary”.
Another chipped in: “i found it completely offensive the other day when you said ‘if one day i decide that i’m a horse does that make me a horse?'”.
She added a few days later that “the theory that the pharmaceutical industry is driving the trans movement” was “just like what the Daily Mail says” and therefore automatically wrong.
With her comrade still adamant that “denying that trans women/men are women/men is oppressive”, I drifted away from Shoal, aware that my views were considered deeply problematic, but unsure as to whether or not I had been definitively excommunicated.
However, after I started challenging the Covid coup in the spring of 2020, I heard back from Shoal, who were unhappy that my website profile still identified me as part of their collective.
One of them wrote on April 21 2020: “A number of people have now approached us to critically ask us about your writings and tweets around coronavirus, as they think that we are still working with you”.
She went on to accuse me of spreading “conspiracy theories” and “misinformation”, such as by criticising 5G, suggesting “that numbers (cases/deaths) are being exaggerated” and reproached me for my “continuous tweeting about Bill Gates”.
She added: “it’s really sad because although you may be gaining more respect from certain people (your views are also views of a lot of far-right people, as well as David Icke), you are also losing respect of anarchists in the UK who previously really valued your work and your contributions to anarchism, and who saw you as a comrade”.
It is a strange world indeed where challenging a global techno-fascist coup is regarded as a resignation letter from the anarchist movement!
Since exploring the world of impact capitalism, I feel that the role of the identity-politics thought police goes further than simply preventing meaningful opposition to the system.
It is clear that they are actually working for impact capitalism, either directly or via the pressure of conformist groupthink.
Impact capitalists have only one interest in life and that is to make money.
If they are prepared to go to such lengths and take such risks by “investing” in far left groups, it is because they are hoping for a considerable financial return.
Proponents of identity politics act as agents of influence for the impact industry, as their ad reps, their marketing staff, their PR division, their security wing.
Maybe they would have been doing all this anyway, for ideological reasons, without any cash from Edge Fund or Guerrilla Foundation or FundAction, but if the impact capitalists can show that they have invested even small amounts in these groups, they can then claim credit and financial benefit from the results they help bring about.
So impact leftists not only help push public opinion into accepting that impact-related causes are worthy of support and therefore of taxpayer funding, not only help silence those who question these agendas, but also – through the very fact of being traceably funded by impact networks – help the impact investors reap profit when desired “outcomes” are reached and financial returns are triggered.
And why are impact investors so keen on intersectionality? Could it be that, for them, identifying an intersection of “problems” to be “solved” in one single individual is like spotting a “triple word score” when playing Scrabble?
If they make good use of the opportunity to show they have funded several successful outcomes with one single investment, do they reap a greater profit?
A “radical” movement so thoroughly riddled with corporate corruption has obviously come to the end of its useful life and is completely discredited.
Maybe, to be fair, those unwittingly caught up in the phenomenon (like me, to some extent) should be given one last chance to come clean and join the resistance.
If they decline to leave the corporate camp through this narrow window of opportunity, they should henceforth be regarded not as former comrades in the international struggle for freedom, autonomy and justice, but as hostile infiltrators working for our historical enemy, the global ruling class.
More than this, the sterile, divisive mindset they have been spreading on behalf of their corporate paymasters should be thrown on the scrapheap of ideological history, where it belongs.
For years now, fake leftists have been pouring scorn on authentic opponents of the system.
They have branded anyone analysing and challenging the corporate elite and their imperialism as “conspiracy theorists” or apologists for foreign powers.
Any criticism of the financial ruling class is declared to be automatically “antisemitic”, even when ethnicity or religion is not the issue, with the whole anti-globalisation movement dismissed out of hand as “an anti-Semitic brown-green-red alliance”.
The impact left have smeared women standing up for their rights as “terfs” or “transphobes” and tried to claim that anti-industrialism and a love of nature is “fascist”, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
We need to ditch all this accumulated toxicity and start again with a radicalism that challenges the system to the core.
We need a resistance to the global wealthy elite that is deeply and fundamentally opposed to everything they are promoting in their bid to further enslave and exploit us.
We need to be delving into their machinations and manipulations, exposing their scams and denouncing their lies.
Our resistance needs to be based on solidarity and unity in the face of oppression, rather than on divisive classification and fetishisation of people along lines of race or gender.
It has to be rooted in a love of freedom, independence and self-expression rather than grafted on to a fearful cowed obedience to authority and its propaganda.
We need to say clearly that the values we cherish have nothing to do with the low money-lust of the corporate crooks and their sweaty dreams of endless profit and power.
Turning our backs forever on their corrupt transhumanist death-cult politics of artifice, hypocrisy and deceit, we need to stand tall and loudly proclaim our belief in nature, in humanity, in truth, in beauty, in justice, in the life energy itself.