Marketplace Helps Advisors Integrate High-Impact Philanthropy, Improving Access to Research, Efficiency and Engagement for Donors

San Diego, November 21, 2016

Chris Blunt, President of the Investments Group of New York Life, has joined the Board of Benefunder, an organization that integrates with donor advised funds (DAFs) to connect donors directly with top research causes across the nation.

Benefunder is a unique marketplace of philanthropic opportunities in research and innovation, offering a highly efficient approach for targeted, high-impact giving by donors working with financial advisors.

“Chris Blunt is distinguished not only for his long-established leadership at New York Life but also for a demonstrated commitment to novel charitable giving solutions,” said Christian Braemer, Benefunder Chief Executive Officer.  “We are extraordinarily pleased to now have the benefits of Chris’ experience and insight, and we look forward to his help as we explore new opportunities to advance the Benefunder mission and broaden our network of advisors, philanthropists, and academic institutions.”

Solving the “Donor Problem”

Over half of all wealth creation since World War II can trace its roots back to a research grant, yielding such fundamental innovations as the Internet, lasers, gene sequencing, and countless medical advances.  Though funding research importantly generates vital breakthroughs addressing a broad range of societal problems, identifying and supporting the best research opportunities can be expensive and time-consuming.  Also, publicly funded research has been stagnant for more than a decade, and less than 4 percent of the approximately $358 billion in annual U.S. philanthropy goes to support research.       

Benefunder seeks to reduce this deficit with a new, scalable channel for funding research that can lead to key innovations, while also offering a new, smarter way for donors to support their passions.  Advisors can help clients fulfill their legacy in a way that also engages the next generation – maintaining and growing assets while also providing a major societal benefit.  Donors gain access to the best and brightest minds in whatever category interests them, with dramatically reduced overhead costs and funding cycles as well as ongoing engagement with the researchers and their work.    

More than 650 researchers from top institutions nationwide, including seven of the eight Ivy League universities and the nation’s top medical and technological schools, are represented on the Benefunder platform, focusing on research and innovation in life science, new technology, the environment, and the arts and humanities.  The programs reflect all stages of research and innovation, including proof of concept, pre-commercialization, clinical trials, and on-campus incubators and accelerators.  

“Donors and advisors increasingly are seeking ways to enhance the focus and impact of philanthropy, and Benefunder offers one of our industry’s most powerful platforms for that goal,” said Mr. Blunt.  “I’m gratified to have the opportunity to help Benefunder extend its impact within the advised donor community, particularly its efforts to establish new distribution partnerships that will expand the access of both advisors and donors to the Benefunder approach.”

Senior Leadership Roles at New York Life, Now Guiding Benefunder to Next Level

Mr. Blunt has served as President of New York Life’s Investments Group, currently with more than $500 billion in assets under management, since May 2015.  He joined New York Life in 2004 as Executive Vice President at New York Life Investment Management. In March 2007 he became Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Life and Annuity, and in 2008 was appointed Executive Vice President in charge of Retirement Income Security.  Prior to his current role and starting in February 2012, he served as Co-President of New York Life Insurance Company’s Insurance and Agency Group.  He was appointed to New York Life’s Executive Management Committee in September 2007.

Before joining New York Life, Mr. Blunt was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of GivingCapital, Inc., a firm focused on partnering with leading financial services companies to provide asset-based charitable giving solutions to their clients.

Before that he spent 14 years in senior marketing and distribution roles in the investment management industry.   He was Chief Marketing Officer – Americas, for Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, and President of Mercury Funds Distributors, and also was a Managing Director with Goldman Sachs & Co., and the National Sales Manager for Goldman Sachs Funds.   He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

About Benefunder, a High-Impact Philanthropy Channel for High Net Worth Families

Benefunder is a unique funding channel for research and innovation, providing financial advisors with a better solution for targeted philanthropy and donors with a smarter and more meaningful way to give.  Benefunder is the U.S.’s largest donor platform for active research, offering the opportunity to directly support more than 650 top researchers working toward breakthrough treatments and solutions that will greatly impact and benefit society.