Two Kinds of Investments
Our mission investments complement our grantmaking to support prosperity in the communities we serve—with good jobs, thriving businesses, and vibrant cultures.
We have two types of mission investments:
How Our Mission Investments Are Distinctive
Few foundations are rigorously measuring their mission investing or have measured it for as long as we have (for more than 15 years). We also work with managers to measure the impact of these investments.
MRIs and PRIs support not only our mission, but also are aligned with our grantmaking strategy and its two outcomes: more good jobs and increased financial capability.
The commitment of 10 percent of our endowment for mission investing is larger than that of most foundations, as is the $45M we’ve invested to MRI funding; most foundations only fund PRIs.
Our Values and Impact
We actively search for investment managers whose values align with our own, including rural community investment and funding opportunities not ordinarily considered for mission investing.
Our staff are experienced in the work, good speakers, and steeped in the knowledge of how mission investing is done.
We’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way. Historically, we set aside 5 percent of our assets for grantmaking activities. Now, we’re committing an additional 10 percent of our assets—beyond the 5 percent for grantmaking activities—to mission investing (MRIs and PRIs). This approach allows us to continue building strong, vibrant communities and increase access to good jobs.
The Need to Go Beyond Grantmaking
However, mission investing also calls for a focus on continued learning and evaluation to be more strategic and maximize impact. More than 15 years ago, we began using mission investing to address persistent gaps in capital to seed and grow businesses, both inside and outside of our eight-state region.
We’ve learned many lessons along the way. For example, measurement wasn’t built-in when we started in 2004. We had to find a way to examine our investments to gain an accurate picture of their impact, and we did so in 2006 by adding measurement as a key part of our approach.
We found that mission investing—and using our endowment assets—was a great way to do this. We actively searched for external investment managers whose values align with our own and who we can partner with to make our funds go further. When we started this work over 15 years ago, we learned that measurement should be tailored to the social and financial returns that meet our goals.
Also, mission investing should complement our grantmaking—not replace it. We made the decision back in 2014 to invest $40 million of the Foundation’s investment portfolio for mission investing directly from our endowment. This innovative approach set us apart from others working in our space. Of that $40 million investment, $30 million was reserved for MRIs and $10 million was reserved for PRIs. We’ve since exceeded these goals by millions of dollars.
This approach complements our grantmaking to strengthen our investments in the communities we serve and their efforts to realize good jobs and the financial capability to build assets toward a secure future in which they can achieve economic, social, and cultural prosperity.
We’re Serious About Measurement
We’ve been measuring the impact of our mission investments for 15 years.
Read our measurement insights from a report evaluating MRIs from 2006-2016.