Tony Wells and his wife Dana created The Wells Foundation, a Columbus-based private family foundation,  in 2001. The foundation’s mission is to “create value for our community by developing stronger nonprofit leaders and investing in the next generation of social innovations.” The foundation has spent nearly a decade providing social impact investments into social enterprises and developing new social innovation models with Ohio State University and regularly provides loans and lines of credit to nonprofits for operating needs as well as equity capital to for-profit social enterprises. Tony is a business veteran, successful entrepreneur, community philanthropist, professional investor, and board director. Wells currently serves on three nonprofit boards while working on four startup social enterprises. Wells has an International MBA from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina and is an alumnus at the Wharton School of Business and the Kellogg School of Management.


Are There Any Easy, Less Labor- Intensive Options for Dipping Your Toes in the Water with Mission Investing?

Posted on October 9, 2014 by Tony Wells

Are there any less labor-intensive options for dipping your toes in the water of mission investing? Utilizing the services that Mission Investors Exchange offers is a great option for dipping your toes in the water. At the Wells Foundation, even though we’ve been doing this for some time, it’s been an incredible relationship with MIE and a tremendous value for… Read More

What is the Biggest Danger or Red Light to Think About with Regard to Mission Investing?

Posted on October 9, 2014 by Melanie Audette, Tomer Inbar, Tony Wells

What, if anything, is the biggest danger or red light to think about with regard to mission investing? And how do we avoid them? Tony Wells: Before going into the red lights of mission investing, it is worth mentioning that in nine years of mission investing at the Wells Foundation there has been a 100% return on our non-profit loans… Read More

How do you measure impact or potential impact when deciding how to be most effective?

Posted on October 9, 2014 by Melanie Audette, Tomer Inbar, Tony Wells

How do you measure impact or potential impact when deciding how to be most effective, particularly when comparing the strategy of maximizing investment returns to having more money for grants versus impact investing? Melanie Audette:This starts with where you are in the process. You should think about your mission and how you are evaluating your grants, and take the same… Read More

Mission Investing: Overcoming Resistance and Getting Started

Posted on October 9, 2014 by John Hawkins, Melanie Audette, Tomer Inbar, Tony Wells

How can you engage your board in a thoughtful conversation about the options and added benefits of the mission investing approach? What are some of the best ways to get started with mission investing, and how do family foundations, especially those with limited staff capacity, manage these new strategies to better leverage their philanthropic assets and mission?… Read More

What Are Recoverable Grants?

Posted on October 9, 2014 by Tony Wells

Recoverable grants may be used to address concerns of non-profit boards that are hesitant to take on any type of debt. Some boards may have a policy that they’re not willing to take on debt, no matter what the upside is. We’ve had several situations where we became creative with our approach. We would say, “Okay, we really believe in… Read More

How Can I Help My Board Members Understand the Long- Term Nature of Impact Investing?

Posted on October 9, 2014 by Tomer Inbar, Tony Wells

Tomer Inbar: To start with a short anecdote, a client of mine and I were talking about their first program-related investment (PRI) that was going to go under. Although they had a successful program-related investment portfolio, she had to go to the investment committee where her PRIs were managed and tell them that they believed that this company was going… Read More

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