Impact Investing

About this collection: This Content Collection features stories and resources on impact investing and related strategies, including replays of past NCFP webinars on this topic, past NCFP blog posts, and additional resources, guides, and samples from those in our network.

A growing number of family foundations have made the strategic decision to align all or part of their investment portfolios with their philanthropic values and mission. This Content Collection features stories and resources on impact investing and related strategies, including replays of past NCFP webinars on this topic, past NCFP blog posts, and additional resources, guides, and samples from those in our network.

Looking for an investment advisor with experience in impact investing or values-aligned investing? Read about NCFP’s new partnership and member benefit with ValuesAdvisor: Finding the Right Advisor to Help Align Your Investments With Your Values.
Interested in general guidance on investing and spending policies? Please see the NCFP Content Collection on Investments and Spending Policies for additional information and resources.
Interested in learning more about this topic alongside your peers? Consider signing up for a current or future cohort of NCFP’s Mission Investing Institute & Action Cohorts.

Key Primers and Guides in the Field

Capital at a Crossroads: Redirecting Capital to Accelerate Racial Equity

This paper offers a synopsis of the evolution from community development and ESG investing to the emergence of investing explicitly with a racial equity lens, proposes a definition for racial equity investing, and presents emerging opportunities across asset classes for investors.

Emotionally Invested: Stories of Impact Investing

Passages Issue Briefs
For example, an investor who may be concerned about the effects of climate change, may seek to reduce the exposure to fossil fuels in their investment portfolio, reinvesting the proceeds in either alternative forms of energy or in other investments. Others may choose to invest in solutions designed to increase…

Impact Investing: a Primer for Family Foundations

A foundation is a powerful platform through which families can express their values in society. Yet, most families only use a small portion of their foundation assets to pursue their philanthropic missions. Funding solutions to the world's toughest challenges requires far more resources than are available through foundations' grantmaking alone

Impact Investing: Frameworks for Families

This primer provides family enterprises with clear explanations of the “why,” “how,” and “what” of impact investing, while illuminating the diversity of the impact investing marketplace as it exists today, and providing families with a basic understanding of how they can start making more impact investments more effectively.

A Short Guide to Impact Investing

This guide seeks to help high net worth individuals, family offices and others to know some of the questions, if not the answers, to determine what’s right for them and what to do next to move toward meaningful, measurable impact.

Essentials of Impact Investing: a Guide for Small-Staffed Foundations

Impact investing has the potential to enable every foundation, regardless of size, to pursue its philanthropic mission more effectively. It can help individual donors, families, foundations with few or no staff, and all sorts of giving entities put more and different types of capital to work for social good. Even better, it can deliver philanthropic…

Navigating the Territory: A guide to impact investing for donors

The field is young, the terminology is confusing, and the resources available to help them engage are only now emerging. With this guide, the authors hope that you will develop a better understanding of the landscape and identify different ways to learn more and take positive steps forward.

Impact Investing: Mapping Families’ Interests & Activities in 2020

Impact Investing: Mapping Families’ Interests and Activities is part of a multi-year effort to study a problem that many ultra high net worth (UNHW) families have identified as critical, timely, and important: the existing impact investing opportunity set does not fully match their specific investment interests. The 2020 version of…

Case Studies from Family Foundations

Mission Investing: A Framework for Family Foundations

In partnership with the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, NYU Wagner Social Innovation & Investment Initiative analyzed more than 40 foundation-related investments, and together developed a MISSION framework to document its impact investing strategy.

Charting a Course to Impact Investing for The Russell Family Foundation

The idea of impact investing tends to divide people into two groups. Some believe it is the best-of-both-worlds; a way to invest that bolsters their mission while generating competitive returns. Others fear that it is too-good-to-be-true; a distraction that cannot consistently produce returns that are comparable to traditional investing models.

Mapping the Journey to Impact Investing at the Surdna Foundation

This report focuses on how to organize a generative process to learn about and discuss impact investing, using the Surdna Foundation's own experience as a guide. Existing resources in the field can provide the technical blueprints for making impact investments.

Sustainable Investing as Part of a 10-Year Spend Down at The John Merck Fund

Impact Story
When The John Merck Fund embarked on a 10-year spendout of its assets in 2012, the board aimed to maximize its grantmaking clout across four core program areas. The board also set another challenge: to finance the effort as much as possible with sustainable investments consistent with the Fund's philanthropic…

Mobilizing More for Mission: Re-Designing Wallace Global Fund’s Endowment

Wallace Global Fund (WGF), a private foundation founded by Henry A. Wallace, Vice President of the United States under Franklin D. Roosevelt, and further endowed by his son Robert B. Wallace, has been at the forefront of this recent trend among foundations to re-allocate their entire portfolios into “mission-related investments.”

Mission Investments at the Packard Foundation

Since the Packard Foundation’s first PRI in 1980, its approach to mission investing has evolved dramatically. This report by Redstone Strategy Group documents key learnings from some of the Foundation’s more innovative, complex deals – experiences that pushed the Foundation beyond the land and facilities PRIs that typified its early…

The Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation Signed the Divest Invest Pledge: Here’s Why

Recognizing the disproportionate impacts of climate change on low-wealth people and communities of color in the United States and around the globe, we signed the Divest Invest pledge, a global movement calling for investors "to divest from the fossil fuel industries deepening the climate crisis and invest instead in climate…

3 Reasons Impact Investing Works for Our Family

Instead of aligning all of our foundation’s investments with our mission, we have carved out a small portion of the corpus of one of the foundations under the EJF Philanthropies umbrella. By setting aside this portion, we have not had to put a large amount of money to work.

NCFP Webinars

July 14, 2022

Impact Investing: Aligning All Capital for Good

Impact investing is a powerful tool to align and maximize assets for good. The practice is growing increasingly common, yet many families are in search of guidance on how to begin or accelerate their impact investing pursuits. Join us to explore the fundamentals of impact investing, and learn more about…
April 18, 2019

Impact Investing: Dipping Your Toes or Going All In

Experts predict that the impact investing market will be worth more than $300 billion by 2020.  Impact investing – which seeks a specific environmental, social or governance return above and beyond a strictly financial return – can be a particularly valuable tool for foundations and donor advised funds that seek…
July 13, 2017

Mission Investing: Resources and Advice for Family Philanthropy

While mission investing is a trend that’s sweeping the field, families may face a variety of unexpected challenges when implementing a mission (or impact) investment strategy. This webinar will highlight family philanthropists sharing insights on how mission investing has worked for their purposes, and how you can make it work…
October 9, 2014

Mission Investing: Overcoming Resistance and Getting Started

Family foundations and family offices are increasingly turning to mission (more broadly known as impact) investing strategies as a key tool for aligning investments and operations with their mission and objectives. How can you engage your board in a thoughtful conversation about the options and added benefits of the mission investing…
July 12, 2012

Impact Investing and Family Philanthropy: a One-Two Punch

Interest in impact investing among wealth holders, their foundations, and family offices continues to grow. As a means for providing capital to for-profit ventures with a social mission, impact investing is increasingly viewed as an effective solution for combining the philanthropic aspirations of wealthy families with their financial objectives. This…

NCFP Blog Posts

How PRIs Can Help Maximize Impact and Approaches for Getting Started

Blog Post
In 2018, Mary Ann Weiss wrote a post for NCFP about program-related investments (PRIs), their advantages, and the barriers to using them. Since then, the philanthropic landscape has shifted and Mary Ann has built her own experience with PRIs. Learn more about use cases for PRIs and how to get…
sticky notes on bulletin board. Yellow sticky note says "Impact Investing" and pink sticky note has bar graph measuring money that increases over time

Impact Investing, and What I Wish I Knew When I Started

Blog Post
Introduction to Systemic Challenges I started my career as a teacher with Teach For America, hoping to replicate in my classroom a version of my grandfather’s rags to riches story, with education as the great equalizer for kids from underinvested communities. My former students would say I taught them well,…

A Peek into Impact Investing for Foundations

We are seeing more family foundations committing their assets (both endowment and “payout”) to impact investing, regardless of asset size. The reasons are multiple and depend on the family, but we are starting to notice some trends.

Mission Engagement with the “Other 95 Percent”

With help from our advisors and grantees, we will continue to explore how we can maximize strategic deployment of the Foundation’s resources to support healthy ecosystems and sustainable, vibrant communities.

Making Sense of Impact Investing

You’ve seen the research: financial returns need not be sacrificed for environmental or social objectives. You recognize the possible benefit of using your foundation’s investment capital to ameliorate the same pressing social and environmental issues currently targeted by your grant strategy. You hear people in the mainstream financial services industry…

Confronting the 4 Myths of Impact Investing

At the Case Foundation, we work hard at being active listeners in order to be better advocates for change. And as we continue efforts to take the impact investing movement into the mainstream, I want to review some of the myths that we’re hearing, which may be posing barriers to…

PRIs: an Underused Funding Tool for Family Foundations and Social Enterprises

This underutilized tool has been gaining traction recently for social impact investors and entrepreneurs as a middle ground between charitable grants and for-profit investments that can provide low-cost capital to mission-driven companies while allowing foundations to stretch their limited dollars for maximum impact.

Program-Related Investment Rules for Private Foundations

This free resource, which covers the basic legal rules for program-related investments, takes about forty-five minutes to complete. The training features "Maya," a program officer that helps participants through the course in a way that reflects actual experiences.

Impact Investing: Overcoming Resistance from Family and Board Members

Editor’s Note: Impact investing is of growing interest to the many thousands of philanthropic families around the world who manage their philanthropy through family foundations and family offices. In this month’s edition of Family Giving News, we present practical solutions and advice regarding one of the most commonly cited challenges…