The gala dinner and ball hosted by hedge fund-backed charity
Absolute Return for Kids (ARK) has become one of the highlights
of the London social calendar. Each year, a flock of
international celebrities ensures maximum publicity for the
event, which raises millions of pounds for disadvantaged
children. Donors are famously generous; this year ARK raised an
impressive £14.5 million (with match funding), equivalent
to $22.8 million.
|Kevin Gundle in Zambia, January 2012
But the real story is what happens away from the black ties
and bright lights.
ARK's unusual approach is to back up its philanthropy with
business principles that are borrowed mainly from the hedge
fund world. Trustees and executives talk about doing due
diligence on investments, setting performance targets,
monitoring, devising exit strategies and above all, measuring
the results of ARK's programmes to make sure they are going to
"We've got big hearts, but...