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Aggregating Impact: A Funder's Guide to Mission Investment Intermediaries

November 1, 2007

This report provides a guide to mission investment intermediaries, organizations that collect capital from multiple sources and reinvest it in people and enterprises, whether nonprofit or for-profit, that deliver both social impact and financial returns. A growing number of foundations and other funders are beginning to use such intermediaries versus making mission investments directly. This is due to a number of advantages that intermediaries can provide, such as ease of investment, reduced risk, lower transaction costs, specialized expertise, performance reporting, and an expanded deal flow. Yet research disclosed that many funders are unaware of the wide range of mission investment intermediaries that are available and of the advantages they can offer. The authors provide an overview of mission investment intermediaries and how foundations use them, the benefits and challenges of investing in intermediaries, and an analysis of available intermediaries that address economic development, housing and the environment.

The Power of Strategic Mission Investing

October 1, 2007

A growing number of foundations are offering low-interest loans, buying into green business ventures, and investing in other asset classes to advance their missions. Yet most mission investing remains haphazard and inconsequential. To bring about real change, foundations need to take a fundamentally different approach, making strategic mission investments that complement their grantmaking. Authors Mark Kramer and Sarah Cooch talk about strategic mission investing in the Fall 2007 issue of Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Compounding Impact: Mission Investing by U.S. Foundations

April 1, 2007

This recently published report provides the first comprehensive analysis of mission investing by U.S. foundations. The study, funded by The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, analyzes the mission investment activity of 92 U.S. foundations, which have made a combined total of $2.3 billion of mission investments. Mission investing is a more specific type of social investing, and represents the use of financial investments as tools to achieve a foundation's mission. Through interviews with foundations and extensive data collection, FSG assembled a rich picture of current and historical mission investment activity stretching back almost 40 years. The study found that the number of foundations engaged in mission investing has doubled in recent years, and the amount of funds committed annually has tripled. Although most mission investments are still low-interest loans, foundations are increasingly using equity and other investments that generate market-rate returns. Surprisingly, most of the growth has been driven by smaller foundations with assets under $200 million.

Investing for Impact - Managing and Measuring Proactive Social Investments

January 1, 2006

This 2006 study, commissioned by the Shell Foundation, and prepared by FSG, sees strong growth and opportunity in the nascent field of proactive social investment (PSI). In a typical PSI, a socially-responsible corporation or a charitable foundation uses its capital to invest in new enterprises that can play a critical role in alleviating a societal problem. Although still a very small share of investments, the report estimates that PSIs total nearly US$15 billion, and are attracting increasing interest among foundations and corporations. The study, based on in-depth interviews with 36 pioneers in social investment from the US and Europe, validates the belief that PSIs can simultaneously deliver measurable social benefits and attractive rates of return.