current issue Summer 2013 #174

Impact Investing

New sources of mission-driven private capital could step up to support community development where traditional sources of financing are withdrawing.  · 

  • Impact Investing Resources

    If you want to explore impact investing further, here are some places to start.

  • Thank you!

    We want to thank the many people who helped us put together this issue. We’re always grateful to our authors who share their insights and expertise. The people listed below guided us through the complexities of trying to understand a relatively new field so that we could frame the right questions. Most of the people listed below participated in a large advisory meeting we held on the topic hosted by our good friends at the Ford Foundation, others spoke with us in the weeks and months that followed. Everyone’s help was invaluable to us, but we’d like to note a few people for special thanks. We also compiled a resource guide with some additional impact investing-related organizations and reports that deserve your attention.

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    Doing Well by Doing Good

    With a little knowledge and effort, investors of many kinds can work with financial advisors to learn how to match their investments with their values and build a meaningful portfolio with solid returns.  · 

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    Small Dollars, Big Returns

    So what can you make happen with a domestic impact investment anyway?  · 

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    Two Structured Community Development Funds: A Peek at How They Work

    The details, lessons, and impact of two innovative community development funds created by Enterprise Community Partners.  · 

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    Measuring Blended Value

    Tracking social return on investment is more complicated than measuring financial return. How do impact investors do it?  · 

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    The Role of Government in Impact Investing

    Impact investing may seem like a market-based concept, but government can and does support, enable, and participate in it many ways.  · 

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    Connecting CDFIs and Impact Investors

    It should be a natural fit; what’s in the way?  · 

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    Preparing for Business as Unusual

    An impact investment can move a nonprofit to a high level of effectiveness and stability—but only if it’s done its homework first.  · 

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    Letting the Dollars Land

    To realize the promise of community investment, the capacity of specific places to absorb available capital needs to grow.  · 

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    The $15 Trillion Shift

    “Investor apartheid” securities rules are keeping investment artificially blocked from the businesses with the most positive impact on communities— small, local ones.  · 

  • What Is Philanthropic Equity? A Roundtable Discussion

    As we prepared this issue, the term "philanthropic equity" kept surfacing. What is this new concept in philanthropy, and how is it different from both traditional grantmaking and program-related investments? In December we gathered a group of people from foundations and nonprofit intermediaries to explore the concept, its promises and pitfalls.

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The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future, by Joseph Stiglitz. Norton & Company, Inc., June 2012, 448 pp. $27.95 (cloth).

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Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation

We first met Darren Walker about 15 years ago while planning an issue on faith-based development. Darren was the chief operating officer of the Abyssinian Development Corporation, the storied community development arm of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City. We asked Darren to write an article that was not simply a cheerleader’s promotion of church-based CDCs, but a realistic assessment of the benefits and challenges to an institution embarking on that path.

Darren was optimistic and enthusiastic about the work he was doing at Abyssinian creating hundreds of units of affordable housing in Harlem. But he was pragmatic and realistic also. His article encouraged organizations to temper the enthusiasm necessary to even consider this work with a realistic analysis of an organization’s capacities and a clear-eyed examination of their assumptions about the rewards of creating a CDC.

Darren approached his work enthusiastically, I think, because he had visceral understanding of the challenges low-income folks had and the opportunities that were available to them with the right help. The kind of help that the stability of an affordable home could provide. His understanding came from personal experience that would inform his work wherever it took him, from law school to international finance, from a storefront afterschool program and Abyssinian to the Rockefeller and Ford foundations.

When we sat down with Darren on March 18 to conduct this interview, we were glad to see that enthusiasm, optimism, and pragmatism were as strong as ever as he starts his leadership of one of the world’s largest foundations.

Shelterforce  ·  April 10, 2014


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