Chronicle of Philanthropy Special Report: Good Returns
The Chronicle of Philanthropy dedicated its January 2019 issue to the progress of foundation commitments to impact investing in the special report, Good Returns. It highlighted the progress many MIE members are making in aligning their investments with their missions, including Annie E. Casey Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Ford Foundation, Heron Foundation, Kresge Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Rockefeller Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
The first article in the series, Climate Change Spurs McKnight to Go Big on Impact Investing included an examination of McKnight Foundation’s impact investing portfolio. In the article, Director of Investments Elizabeth McGeveran explains the foundation’s mindset and process to begin to make mission investments from their endowment, noting that one out of every three dollars is aligned with mission.
Tara Health Foundation, a foundation working to advance the health and well-being of girls and women was profiled in the second article in the series, A Doctor’s Scientific Approach to a Grant Maker’s Investments. Founder Ruth Shaber, M.D., shares how she approaches impact investing and how her openness to risk informs investment decisions.
The report also included an interview with impact investing skeptic Larry Kramer, President of the Hewlett Foundation in the third article, Hewlett Foundation’s Leader Makes a Case Against Impact Investing. (Kramer was a speaker at MIE’s National Conference in May 2018.)
In the article Doing Good and Doing Well the Chronicle challenged the progress being made by the field, probing why more foundations aren’t allocating more of their endowments to mission. MIE supports that evolution and provides a variety of education, convenings and tools to help foundations wherever they are in their journeys, whether that is beginning or advanced stages. Of note, the articles omitted the historic success of Program Related Investments (PRIs), an investment unique to foundations and arguably the first impact investments in the field. This led MIE CEO Matt Onek to write a letter to the editor in support of this valuable tool, and the full range of tools on the risk-return-impact continuum, from low interest loans, to loan guarantees, to market rate equity investments, and more.