Mission investing: Overcoming resistance and getting started
Staff, board members, donors and consultants with an interest in learning how to use mission investing to leverage their philanthropic assets.
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 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? Join us for a discussion with a leader from Mission Investor Exchange and family foundations who have become active impact investors.
As Deputy Director of Mission Investors Exchange, Melanie Audette assists in leading a national association of over 250 foundations who are contemplating or are already engaged in mission investing. The organization provides opportunities for peer-to-peer learning and networking, practical tools and templates, and leadership in driving greater amounts of capital assets toward positive social and environmental change.
Melanie began her career as a member of the U.S. Foreign Service, with postings in the State Department and in U.S. embassies in London and Quito. Upon her return to the United States, Melanie managed the family offices and foundation for the Behnke family of Seattle. She also has been vice president of Indiana Philanthropy Alliance, where she was a co-founder of the Youth Philanthropy Initiative of Indiana. Melanie has a degree in communication studies from Indiana University and focused her consultancy, Audette Communications LLC, on communication services to philanthropy organizations.
John Hawkins lives in Strafford, Vermont, and has been a teacher, a cabinetmaker, a wooden toy designer and manufacturer, a software engineer and a college administrator. He also spent several years as a local elected ofﬁcial serving as a Selectman and the Town Moderator. John, who has served on the Surdna Foundation Board of Trustees since 1999, is a great-grandson of John E. Andrus, who founded Surdna in 1917.
As a college administrator, John spent 17 years at Dartmouth College where he served as Associate Director of Consulting, Associate Director of Curricular Computing, Director of Distance Education and Director of Strategic Projects for Computing Services. He is also a graduate of Dartmouth College (BA 1969, MA 1995) and wrote his Master's Thesis on "The Design of Computer Interfaces and the History of Cartography."
John consults to foundations to help them utilize data visualization and mapping tools to evaluate grant-making and share information.
Tomer Inbar is a partner with Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP where he represents U.S. and international tax-exempt organizations in a broad range of structural and operating matters, including tax and corporate issues, regulatory compliance, governance, operational policies and procedures, audits, unrelated business income tax issues, and executive compensation matters. He regularly advises on an array of corporate transactions, such as joint ventures and the establishment of for-profit subsidiaries, corporate restructuring, private equity fund formation, and licensing and service arrangements.
Among Mr. Inbar’s clients are public charities, private foundations, colleges and universities, economic development corporations and museums and cultural institutions, many of which are active worldwide.
Mr. Inbar is a regular speaker at programs for tax-exempt organizations. Recent topics have included corporate governance, charitable investment funds, lobbying by charitable organizations, legal aspects of program-related investments, and board governance considerations and liability concerns.
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.
What participants said:
GREAT work organizing a fabulous panel of presenters, offering insight into the full range of intertwined issues. An inspiring presentation covering many of the thorny realities 'on the ground', of getting from concept to execution!
It was very informative to listen to those who have actually engaged in PRI activity.
The speakers provide many perspectives, ways of doing something, and are at varying places in their process. They are not afraid to share both successes and missteps.
It started with a good definition of mission investing and then gave a comprehensive overview of different ways of doing it. Also important, and appreciated, was the identification of resources for those who may want to learn more.