VIDEO -- Mission Investing

For this episode of Dialogue for the Discerning Donor, we invited PhilanthroMedia to capture the Association of Small Foundation's recent convening on the topic of Mission Investing. In a nutshell, mission investing encourages foundations to look beyond grants, to the power they can gain by investing their financial endowments in ways that align with mission. Luther M. Ragin Jr, who provided the keynote for our gathering and who is pioneering the field of mission investing in his work with the F.B. Heron Foundation, points out that this is a strategy also gaining steam among high-net worth donors. The video also includes clips from ShoreBank's Debbie Kobak (whose joyous advocacy of the concept makes the video worth watching) and Floyd Keene (pictured above), a board member for the Association of Small Foundations and president of the Triple EEE Foundation, who has also been passionately advocating for this approach.

Those of us who have watched mission investing know that it is only now transcending the orthodoxy which says that foundations should invest their endowments for maximum financial return, without thought to where those investments are made and how they may in fact even run counter to greater societal goals. In our research, we found a quote by Stephen Viederman and Miriam Ballert from an annual report of the Jessie Noyes Foundation which describes how mission investing has and is being approached by traditional philanthropy:

The philosopher Schopenhauer believed that all truth passes through three stages: first it is ridiculed; second it is violently opposed; and third, it is accepted as being self evident. For many foundations, mission-related investing appears to be somewhere between stages one and two. For the Noyes Foundation, where we have begun to see the fruits of our efforts, mission-related investing is becoming self-evident, i.e. part of who we are and what we do...

Based on feedback from our members, I would say the future of Mission Investing looks bright.

Tim Walter

Posted at 9:46 AM, Oct 23, 2007 in Cross-Sectoral Strategies | Economic Development | High Net Worth Donors | Philanthropic Strategy | Permalink | Comment