Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Future Role of Philanthropy: Mission-Aligned Investing

By Guest Blogger, Robert Thalhimer bobby@themonumentgroup.net

With customary optimism, Warren Buffett recently waxed enthusiastic about our nation’s future. He noted that for centuries we have grown with half our workforce—women—on the sidelines. Similarly, we might think optimistically about the future role for philanthropy, which typically budgets based on 5% or less of its assets for accomplishing its goals. What if we were to unleash the power of the capital itself?

Innovative foundations such as Ford, Heron, Kresge, Gates and Rockefeller are leading the way, investing a percentage of their assets in affordable housing, enterprises that create employment in low-income communities and other revenue-producing ventures that serve a philanthropic purpose. What lofty purposes might we accomplish, should this nascent trend catch fire with charitable foundations more broadly? How would communities be transformed if place-focused foundations starting using more of their assets to invest locally to build vibrant, prosperous places?

Nationally, groups such as Mission Investors Exchange and Confluence Philanthropy are focused precisely on fueling the flames of direct impact investment. Yet, most charitable foundations don’t have the staffing resources or the “banking” financial expertise to implement impact investing strategies to the satisfaction of their boards of trustees.

Enter LOCUS Impact Investing, a social enterprise owned by a nonprofit CDFI financial institution. LOCUS works with charitable foundations that wish to engage in the rapidly evolving field of place-focused direct investments — those foundations wanting to make a difference in their communities while earning a return on their funds. LOCUS is experienced at assessing the landscape for deals, conducting due diligence, and servicing and monitoring the investments. LOCUS’ charitable foundation clients benefit from outsourcing this specialized financial back office work without having to expand their own staff. 

Think about the magnitude of foundations’ impact once they unleash the power of their assets beyond just 5%. Local mission-aligned investing can provide more than just a financial return; it can also unleash new possibilities to transform communities with new jobs, revitalized main streets, and access to safe and affordable housing.

LOCUS is helping to unlock this philanthropic capital for local investing for impact one foundation at a time. What hurdles do you face in making impact investments? You might think about calling LOCUS to see if their team of consultants and experts can help.

Join the LOCUS mailing list to stay informed.

Bobby Thalhimer is senior consultant at The Monument Group, www.themonumentgroup.net, located in Richmond, Virginia, which provides strategic advice to the philanthropic sector. 

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