Blog: Amplify

Impact Investing - Beyond Program Related Investments

Editor's note: This post is one in a series highlighting sessions for the upcoming Endowments and Finance Summit, held in Washington, DC, on September 6-7. The Summit is where foundation leaders – such as CEOs, CIOs, CFOs, Senior Investment Officers and board and investment committee members – converge to dialogue on trends, issues, best practices and innovations dealing with endowments, financial management, business and other professional challenges. 

Having invested in underserved communities for many years now, we have seen how often it seems that the problems we are trying to impact get bigger at the same time available resources shrink. While not a happy picture, it has forced us to look at silos in the field of community development. 

One obvious silo is working alone. My very wise friend and Manager at Northern Trust, Connie Lindsay, likes to quote an African proverb which says, “ if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,” which aptly describes the key to long-term sustainable positive change in communities that have been left behind. We have to partner and aggregate capital and resources in new ways using new tools.

Program Related Investments (PRIs) have proven to be a significant tool to magnify a foundation’s or endowment’s grant making activities. Capital can be lent for specific projects or programs, and then when repaid, recycled to other projects and programs, creating a sustainable pool of capital that can fill capital gaps in communities that are not being filled by other sources. 

But what about silos in your investment portfolio? Can it be used beyond Environmental, Social and Governance factor screens? Can it be used to create direct measurable positive impacts in communities and issues areas?

Join us at me and Mark Crosswell, Managing Director, GoATL Fund, Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, to discuss examples of how investment portfolios can include direct investments in communities and how community foundations are moving to engage and leverage donor advised funds to more directly impact their communities and expand their leadership.

We will discuss:

  • Looking at investment portfolios not only as a source of revenue for grantmaking;
  • Pooled funds for direct investments;
  • How to frame the conversation for Boards and Investment Committees to get buy in;
  • How to leverage your grant making activity to find investment opportunities;
  • Avoiding pitfalls and mission drift.

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