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Ford Foundation’s historic announcement on April 5th to commit up to $1 billion from its $12 billion endowment over the next 10 years to mission-related investing has changed the discussion in board meetings of other foundations and other institutional investors, which are increasingly examining the holistic results of their work on local communities. Mission-related investments (MRIs) are the market-rate assets in a foundation’s endowment that have a positive social or environmental impact. MRIs are distinct from program-related investments (PRIs), which primarily aim to accomplish one or more of a foundation’s tax-exempt purposes.
These changing board-level conversations have significant implications: In 2012, the US was home to 86,192 foundations with $715 billion in assets.
Foundations can prepare for these board-level conversations by analyzing the work of the foundations that have taken “into consideration the foundation’s mission as part of meeting prudent investment standards about risk and expected return.” Select details about the mission-related investments of large foundations (i.e., foundations with assets of at least $400 million) are tabulated below. Naturally, a number of sub-$400 million foundations are also innovating with MRIs; these include F.B. Heron Foundation (as detailed further below, a trailblazer in MRIs), TomKat Foundation, Sorenson Impact, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, and Wallace Global Fund. While the work of these smaller foundations is critical, the table below focuses on the MRIs of $400 million+ foundations.