3 Reasons You Should Buy a Stick Vacuum—And 3 Reasons They Suck
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3 Reasons You Should Buy a Stick Vacuum—And 3 Reasons They Suck

Convenient, compact and light, cordless vacuums from companies like Dyson and Samsung have become covetable status symbols for some. But they come with some negatives, too.

By KATE MORGAN
Fri, Dec 8, 2023 10:15amGrey Clock 3 min

JILL KOCH, 39, bought her first cordless vacuum because it was pink. “I didn’t look at the brand, I didn’t look at the price. I saw the colour and was like, ‘I have to have it,’” said the Cincinnati-based home organisation and cleaning blogger. Koch, who owns almost a dozen vacuums, says her newest cordless stick, the Shark Wandvac, gets the most use. She finds its motor powerful enough to handle most tasks. But more important, because of its sleek look, “it’s not even weird to store it in plain sight,” she said. Whenever she sees something that needs cleaning, that vacuum is within reach. She can clear the mess, dump out its dustbin into a trash can, and re-dock the vacuum in a minute or two.

Cordless stick vacuums aren’t new—British manufacturer Dyson released its first cordless stick vacuum in 2010—but the battery-powered, bagless models have become more popular, largely due to their convenience. In 2018, a year after telling Bloomberg that cordless vacuums were driving his namesake company’s growth, James Dyson announced it would no longer bother developing corded models. Convenience, however, isn’t cheap. While you can find excellent corded upright vacuums for under $200, the latest cordless option from Dyson, its Gen 5 Outsize, costs $1,050.

Some experts say ditching your corded model is unwise. Cordless vacuums have a place in your cleaning arsenal, but they aren’t a replacement for a more powerful machine like an upright model with a bag, said Ken Bank, a third-generation vacuum expert and president of Livonia, Mich.-based Bank’s Vacuum Superstores. “The technology has improved a lot,” he said, “but [stick vacuums] aren’t anywhere near as powerful as a vacuum cleaner with a cord and a real motor in it.”

Here’s what to consider before going cordless.

The Pros

Cordless vacuums are light and maneuverable

They are a great choice for folks with strength or mobility issues, or those who just don’t want to push around a heavy vacuum.

Cordless vacuums are supremely versatile

Most vacuums come with multiple heads and attachments, but cordless vacuums make them easier to use. Once you’ve swapped out the long wand for a dust brush, crevice tool or upholstery cleaner, your vacuum easily fits in hand. It’s ideal for cleaning the inside of a car or drawers.

Cordless vacuums let you clean more spontaneously

Since they can be stored on docks or stands, a cordless vacuum is always within reach. If you see a mess, you can have cleaned it before someone with a corded vacuum might have time to locate a plug.

The Cons

Cordless vacuums don’t contain dirt that well

When it comes to filtration and dust containment, nothing beats a classic vacuum with a bag, says Bank, “The cordless ones [are] not sealed up tight,” Bank said. Each time you open your vacuum’s dustbin to dump it out in the trash, he says, you release dust.

Cordless vacuums require you to clean within a time limit

Stick vacuums are battery powered. Batteries die. That means an all-day deep clean might require multiple charging stops. While some cordless vacs can run for up to an hour at a time, estimates shorten when you’re using stronger suction settings.

Cordless vacuums can be tough to fix

Bank doesn’t just sell vacuums; he repairs them, too. He says most stick vacuums are a service nightmare. “They’re hard to maintain, you can’t really take them apart to clean them, and if they break, most companies don’t make parts for them,” he said.

Don’t Get Left In the Dust

For spills, quick pick-ups, and in-between the deep cleans, it’s tough to beat a stick. Two to consider:

A sweeper with storage

Samsung’s Bespoke Jet AI Cordless is not designed to be hidden away in a closet. Its sleek, free-standing docking station doubles as a charger and a canister that auto-empties the vacuum with enough capacity for a few days’ worth of dirt. The company says a battery charge can last for 100 minutes, though that might vary as the vacuum’s software adjusts the suction level based on the floor surface it detects underneath. $US999, Samsung.com

Dust disrupter

Designed by two former Dyson R&D experts, the Pure Cordless by Lupe (pronounced “loop”) has a beefy, 9-cell battery and a 1-litre dust bin. Though one charge lasts around an hour when the vacuum is set on low suction, and just 15 minutes on max, you can buy a second battery ($149) and keep it charged for longer cleaning sessions. Unlike many other models, the Lupe is easily serviceable: You can buy an affordable replacement for basically every component. It also comes with an industry-leading five-year warranty. $US699, LupeTechnology.com

The Wall Street Journal is not compensated by retailers listed in its articles as outlets for products. Listed retailers frequently are not the sole retail outlets.



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Only 5% of U.S. Foundations Invest for Impact, Study Finds
By ABBY SCHULTZ
Sat, Mar 2, 2024 4 min

Few of the U.S.’s philanthropic foundations invest their endowment assets—totalling an estimated US$1.1 trillion—to create positive social and environmental change in addition to high returns, potentially limiting or even counteracting the good such organisations do.

Exactly how few isn’t precisely known. But Bridgespan Social Impact, a subsidiary of the New York-based Bridgespan Group along with the Capricorn Investment Group, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based investment firm founded by Jeff Skoll , the first president of eBay, and the Skoll Foundation, also in Palo Alto, attempted to “get the conservation started,” with a study of 65 foundations with a total of about US$89 billion in assets, according to Mandira Reddy, director at Capricorn Investment Group.

The top-line conclusion: 5% of the primarily U.S.-based foundations surveyed invest their assets for impact. Most surprising is that 92% of these organisations, which have assets ranging from US$11 million to US$16 billion, are active members of impact investing groups, such as the Global Impact Investing Network and Mission Investors Exchange.

“If there’s any pool of capital that is best suited for impact investing, it would be this pool of capital along with family office money,” Reddy says.

The study was also conducted “to draw attention to the opportunity,” she said.

“We want to redefine what philanthropy can achieve. There is massive potential here just given the scale of capital.”

Foundations are required by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to grant 5% of their assets each year to charity; in practice they have granted slightly more in the last 10 years—an average of 7% of their assets, according to Delaware-based FoundationMark, which tracks the investment performance of about 97% of all foundation assets.

The remaining assets of these foundations are invested with the intention of earning the “highest-possible risk-adjusted financial returns,” the report said. Those investments allow these organizations to grant funds often in perpetuity.

Capricorn and Bridgespan argue that more foundations, however, need to “align their capital with their missions,” and that they can do so while still achieving high returns.

“Why wait to distribute resources far into the future when there are numerous urgent issues facing the planet and communities today,” argue the authors of a report on the research, which is titled, “Can Foundation Endowments Achieve Greater Impact.”

The fact most of the foundations surveyed are very familiar with impact investing and yet haven’t taken the leap “highlights the persistently untapped opportunity,” the report said. It details some of the barriers foundations can face in shifting to impact, and how and why to overcome them.

Hurdles to making a shift can include “beginner’s dilemma”—simply not knowing where to start—and a misperception on the part of large foundations that impact investing is “too niche,” offering opportunities that are too small for the amount of capital they need to allocate. Other foundations are too stretched and don’t have the resources to add capabilities for making impact investments, the report said.

One of the biggest concerns is financial performance. Some foundation leaders, for instance, worry impact investments lead to so-called concessionary returns, where a market rate of return is sacrificed to achieve a social or environmental benefit. Those investments exist, but there are also plenty of options that offer financial returns.

The authors make a case for foundations to “go big,” into impact to realize the best outcomes, and to take a portfolio approach, meaning integrating impact principles into how they approach all investments. To make this happen, foundations need to incorporate impact into their investment policy statements, which determine how they allocate assets.

It will be difficult for foundations that want to shift their assets to impact to pull out of investments such as private-equity or venture-capital funds that can have holdings periods of a decade. But with a policy statement in place, a foundation’s investment team can reinvest this long-term capital once it is returned into impact investing options, she says.

“The transition doesn’t happen overnight,” Reddy says. “Even if there is a commitment for an established foundation that is already fully invested, it takes several years to get there.”

The Skoll Foundation, established in 1999, revised its investment policy statement in 2006 to incorporate impact. According to the report, the foundation initially divested of investments that were not in sync with its values, and then gradually, working with Capricorn Investment, began exploring impact opportunities mostly in early-stage companies developing solutions to climate change.

“As the team gained more knowledge and experience in this work, and as more investment opportunities arose, the impact-aligned portfolio expanded across different asset classes, issue areas, and fund managers,” the report said.

As of 2022, 70% of the Skoll Foundation’s assets are in impact investments addressing climate change, inclusive capitalism, health and wellness, and sustainable markets.

Capricorn, which manages US$9 billion for foundations and institutional investors through impact investments, constructs portfolios across asset classes. In private markets, this can include venture, private equity, private credit, real estate, and infrastructure. There are also impact options in the public markets, in both stocks and bonds.

“Across the spectrum there are opportunities available now to do this in an authentic manner while preserving financial goals,” Reddy says.

Of the foundations surveyed, about 15, including Skoll, have 50% or more of their assets invested for impact. Others include the Lora & Martin Kelley Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Russell Family Foundation, and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.

Though not part of the study, the California Endowment just announced it was going “all in” on impact. The organisation has US$4 billion in assets under management, which likely makes it the largest foundation to undergo the shift, according to Mission Investors Exchange.

Although the researchers looked at a fairly small sample set of foundations, Reddy says it provides data “that is indicative of what the foundation universe” might look like.

“We cannot tell foundations how to invest and that’s not the intent, but we do want to spread the message that it is quite possible to align their assets to impact,” she says. “The idea is that this becomes a boardroom conversation.”

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