Thought Leadership

Mission Investing Institute and Action Cohorts: Takeaways and Reflections

Last month, Mission Investors Exchange concluded its first ever Mission Investing Institute and Action Cohorts (the Institute) in partnership with the National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP) and Philanthropy California. The Institute was a six-month, 12-session training program beginning in October 2021 that included learning sessions and action cohorts taught and facilitated by impact investing industry leaders. The nearly 80 participants of the Institute included representatives from foundations, corporations, family offices, and intermediary organizations.
Institute learning sessions covered a variety of introductory topics, including:
  • The fundamentals of impact investing and what those concepts mean in practice from guest speakers that defined terms, explored the spectrum of capital, and shared examples of their investments. Speakers expressed how important it was to allow for time and reflection when strategizing their impact investing approach, or “powering down to power up."
  • The past, present, and future of what it means to invest with a racial equity lens and the importance of integrating values of diversity, equity, and inclusion internally to address policies, practices, and products.
  • Various approaches to developing or expanding an impact investing program, including the components of an impact thesis, the impact investing life cycle framework, and guidance on staffing and governance.
  • Examples from foundations on their journeys in the iterative process of building and refining an impact investing portfolio, including insights into how they target the use and allocation of different investment tools.
  • The various approaches to deal sourcing, due diligence, and impact management, and what it means to operationalize an equity lens in the various components of an impact investing program.
  • Guided conversations on a variety of legal considerations, including the evolving definitions of “fiduciary duty,” and how to think about balancing mission prudence with financial prudence.
Participants were grouped into four Action Cohorts to foster collective learning, develop a peer networking environment, and engage in tailored discussions and learning activities after each learning session. Action Cohorts allowed for more nuanced instruction and an opportunity for participants to strategize.
Only a month after its conclusion, testimonials from participants are already indicating the impact of their learnings, including:
  • One foundation participant provided feedback that they had the time, vocabulary and examples to make a convincing argument with their board to shift to a 90% ESG strategy in their public equities, and they are now working with potential investees to explore direct impact investing deals.
  • After the program, another participant expressed, “I never imagined that we would be this far along at this point in time.” Their foundation formed an impact investment committee, transitioned to a new investment manager, and identified areas for investment.
  • A number of participants remarked that they had not realized the vast variety of tools that were available to deploy capital in impact investing.
  • In response to our racial equity focus, one participant shared their intention to pivot on the makeup of their investment committee to ensure the inclusion of community voices at their family foundation.
The team at MIE and its partners, NCFP and Philanthropy California, are now planning opportunities for additional programming for Institute graduates, including in-person reunions and networking at the MIE 2022 National Conference in Baltimore and partner conferences in California. We are also garnering interest to repeat the Institute in the future–more to come on this!
To learn more about the Virtual Institute and other MIE programming, contact James Wahls, SVP of Programs, at [email protected].

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