Monday, October 05, 2009

Equity Advancing Equity

Impact Investing is a growth field. It builds from socially responsible investing, double bottom line approaches, mission/program related investing, and drives, potentially, lots more capital to the production of social good.

Some of the roots of impact investing come from efforts to redress inequities in access to capital. The history of mission and program related investing as practiced by the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations in the 1960s through the development of community development finance and all the way to last week's $400 million announcement by the Gates Foundation, is one of trying to make capital available to communities and issues where it has been scarce.

I am thrilled to announce the publication of the final Future Matters report - Equity Advancing Equity: Community Philanthropy, Social Equity and Mission Investing. The report focuses on how community philanthropies - community foundations, loan funds, and others - are using mission investing to address these fundamental inequities in their communities. The social inequities shaped by race, ethnicity, class, and gender and sexual orientation are exacerbated by inequitable access to capital. Success stories abound of community driven efforts to redress these challenges - many of which start locally and become national models. The report chronicles these successes, offers resources and guidance for incorporating these strategies into your portfolio, and provides sample measures of impact.

This paper, which marks the official conclusion of the Future of Community Philanthropy Project - five years of work funded by the Ford and Mott Foundations with final support from The Bank of America and led by my firm, Blueprint Research & Design in partnership first with The Monitor Institute and now with Lisa Richter of GPS Capital Partners - produced On the Brink of New Promise: The Future of US Community Foundations, (OBNP) 8 Future Matter reports over 2 years, and a toolkit of materials to help community foundations use this information. We've conducted several dozen consulting engagements based on the work, presented the materials at countless conferences, incorporated crowdsourced improvements into the tools, and heard from thousands of community philanthropists - in the U.S and abroad - about the importance of this work.

This current moment is one of great potential and challenge to community foundations. Much of what was outlined in OBNP has come true, some of the drivers of change are accelerating, and innovation in business models, impact measures, resource allocation, and vision are valuable currency among community philanthropists. I hope Equity Advancing Equity can contribute to shaping the near and long term futures of all our communities.

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