Impact Investing

Aligning Mission and Financial Return

In 1996, in what is now considered a legendary conversation, the trustees of the F.B. Heron Foundation posed a simple question to themselves: “Should a private foundation be more than a private investment company that uses some of its excess cash flow for charitable purposes?” Their answer was “yes,” and in the last decade the Heron Foundation has been in the vanguard of the impact investing movement wherein funders use a portion of their corpora to support market-based solutions to existing social problems.

Since 2008, Woodcock has been involved in three strategic collaborations with other foundations in furthering this burgeoning movement and at present has more than twenty percent of its assets in impact investments.

Solutions for Impact Investors: From Strategy to Implementation

Co-sponsors: Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, KL Felicitas Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Betsy and Jesse Fink Foundation, Legacy Works, Flora Family Foundation, Woodcock Foundation

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors’ newest monograph on the topic of impact investing, Solutions for Impact Investors: From Strategy to Implementation, was mailed to 2,500 key contacts in the philanthropic and financial communities. The guide aims to increase the rigor with which impact investors frame their investment decisions and demonstrates how impact investing can be integrated through all asset classes.

The New New Economy: Investing with a Climate Change Lens during Challenging Times

November 20, 2008

Co-sponsors: Merck Family Fund, Generation Investment Management, CUNY Graduate Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, Federal Street Advisors, John Merck Fund, Park Foundation, Sidney Frank Foundation, Surdna Foundation, Environmental Grantmakers Association, Philanthropy New York, Overbrook Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Woodcock Foundation

The New New Economy symposium, held in New York City on November 20, 2008, examined the principles of MRI and its implications for climate change. Al Gore, Van Jones, and other speakers discussed how despite recent financial losses, there was still some $520 billion in the endowments of U.S. private foundations that could act as a catalyst for social change through market-driven investments that promote funders’ missions and program objectives.

Over 400 foundation representatives, investment professionals, green investment executives and press attended.

Mission Related Investing: A Policy and Implementation Guide for Foundation Trustees

Co-sponsors: Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, F.B. Heron Foundation, Flora Family Fund, Woodcock Foundation

This guide, originally published in early 2008 and now in its second printing, uses case studies from such funders as the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Robin Hood Foundation and F.B. Heron Foundation to outline how to invest assets to achieve both social and financial returns.