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 plan.
“We’ve got big hearts, but...