Blog: Amplify

Let’s Talk about Impact Investing

Do you ever wish that your foundation had more money to solve social problems and transform your community? As need grows faster than grant dollars, many foundations are making mission and impact investments in order to unlock new capital for social good. Community foundations are investing discretionary and donor-advised assets to produce social and financial returns, and private foundations are doing the same with their investment portfolios. CEOs and trustees are discussing whether to make below-market PRIs, program-related investments, market-rate MRIs, mission-related investments, or all of them. In the same way foundations look to partnerships, host convenings, and inform public policy to augment what grants can accomplish, foundations are increasingly seeing impact investing as a viable tool to solve social problems.

This summer, the Council on Foundations took important steps to join the impact investing conversation taking place within and outside of philanthropy. To get you all the information and resources you need, we have established key partnerships with Mission Investors Exchange and the Global Impact Investing Network, two leading organizations that are building the field. In the coming months, you will see us roll out programming to help you learn about and improve your impact investing opportunities and we hope you will participate in the conversation.

On the eve of the Fall Conference for Community Foundations, I am pleased to share that last month we held an initial convening of thought leaders, advisers, field builders, and impact investors who are passionate about facilitating place-based impact investing opportunities for community foundations. In New Orleans and beyond, I am excited to hear your ideas and meet you at the three impact investing sessions taking place at the Fall Conference. Be on the lookout for an upcoming survey that will help our collaborative design resources as well as convenings to help you along.

If you are already versed in impact investing or eager to get started right away, there are a few upcoming conferences and trainings to build your knowledge and network.

  • Program officers interested in community development and ready for a rigorous training should register by September 21 for a free Citi Foundation-sponsored course designed to equip foundations with the financial tools and techniques to make mission investments in projects that achieve results in low to moderate-income communities. Co-developed by National Development Council, Living Cities, Citi Community Development, and Mission Investors Exchange, the first in the two-part course takes place from October 16–18 and the second from December 11–13 in New York City.
  • The Council has partnered with SOCAP12: Making Meaning Matter, a conference in San Francisco from October 1–4, where impact investors, social entrepreneurs, philanthropists, civic leaders, and innovators will gather to meet with other people creating change and mobilize resources and capital for good. We are offering a 30 percent registration discount to anyone in our network and will host an informal foundation meet-up at SOCAP12. Before the conference begins, attend a half-day conference on impact investing with Arabella Advisors and the Financial Planning Association of San Francisco at special nonprofit pricing.

With so much interest in figuring out how to unlock more capital for social impact, the Council is thrilled to be part of the conversation. Whether online or at any of these events, I hope to connect with you during your impact investing journey.

Laura Tomasko is manager of Public-Philanthropic Partnerships and leads impact investing at the Council on Foundations. Connect with her on Twitter @lauratomasko.

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