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Aligning Mission and Investment Pays Off for Foundations

Published 12-17-08

Submitted by Center for Corporate Citizenship

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - December 17, 2008 - A group of leading foundations is putting into high gear a campaign challenging their peers to dramatically increase their investments in community development, environmental sustainability and other so-called "mission investing" strategies. As foundations face shrinking endowments in challenging financial times, they are turning to alternative investment opportunities to maximize the impact of their existing financial resources.

Mission investing - seeking opportunities to align a foundation's investments with the mission of the organization - is an important strategy for foundations participating in the More for Mission Campaign. Formerly known as the 2% Campaign, the More for Mission Campaign has developed a Resource Center based at the Boston College Institute for Responsible Investment, to help foundations leverage their endowments through investments that support the foundations' broader missions without compromising their endowments' financial success.

The More for Mission Campaign, with a Leadership Committee of 24 foundation CEOs that represent close to $19 billion in assets, is challenging other foundations to increase mission investments by at least 2 percent of total foundation assets - some $12 billion over the next five years. The long-term goal is to develop a robust and dynamic mission-investing field with foundation endowments as leaders. Foundations are encouraged to join the Leadership Committee to demonstrate support and provide resources in various ways including their time, technical expertise and ongoing support for the infrastructure and growth of the campaign.

To promote greater participation in mission investing, a new web-based Resource Center was launched this fall by the Boston College Institute for Responsible Investment. The Resource Center, found at, is funded by three pioneers in the field of mission investing: the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the F.B. Heron Foundation and the Meyer Memorial Trust. The Resource Center provides successful strategies, best practice in mission investing, and tools for investors with links to research on the field and measurement systems for mission impact.

"One of the exciting things about the substantial increase in mission investing over the last few years is the opportunity to influence markets to contribute to social outcomes," said Douglas W. Nelson, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. "Collectively foundations' mission investments can harness the enormous power of markets and steer them toward places, populations and purposes important to philanthropy."

Applying the mission investing approach might result in a foundation with a commitment to home ownership investing in low-income housing or to entrepreneurship in venture capital, or commitment to underserved communities making deposits in community development banks. A foundation with an environmentally focused mission might invest in clean technology, green collar jobs or sustainable real estate projects.

"A significant part of our strategy involves sharing what we've learned about the full range of investments, asset allocations and rates of return available with trustees, investment committees and program staff of other foundations," said Sharon King, president of the F.B. Heron Foundation. "The campaign is a great platform to further that effort."

"Mission investments enable us to leverage all of our assets to benefit the communities we serve. Our focus on outcomes and impact is absolute, and we cannot deliver on that without mission investments," said Doug Stamm, CEO of the Meyer Memorial Trust.

The More for Mission Campaign Resource Center hopes to grow the field through the sharing of tools, best practices, lessons learned and ideas for products and services that move the field forward. Boston College's Institute for Responsible Investment, which manages the More for Mission Campaign Resource Center, in 2007 published the "Handbook on Responsible Investment Across Asset Classes" that demonstrates how foundations and institutional investors can engage across several asset classes - including fixed income, public equities, real estate and private equity - in vehicles such as social venture capital funds and clean-tech venture capital funds.

"The More for Mission Campaign Resource Center is available as a resource for foundations as they develop their mission investing platforms," said Boston College's Lisa Hagerman, director of the Resource Center. "We encourage practitioners to share with us their experiences in the field, and to contact the Center with questions about mission investing strategies and investment resources available to start the practice."

Center for Corporate Citizenship

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