Lately, we find ourselves asking how we can be better supporters of our grantee partners, who are working in increasingly difficult circumstances to advance social and economic justice across the South. With rapid expansion of income inequality, the gradual erosion of public goods and outright attacks on families’ safety and dignity, their work is more important than at any point in recent history. It is time to make strategic investments.

Fortunately, the Babcock Foundation board and staff now have the flexibility to consider increased grantmaking opportunities just when they are needed most. After years of planning and research, 2017 marked the first complete year MRBF’s portfolio was 100 percent invested in a mission-related strategy guided by environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria.

One primary focus is our democracy and civic engagement pathway. With the 2018 midterm elections within sight and the 2020 census on the horizon, our grantee partners are working diligently to hone their communications capacities, develop issue alignment within their networks, register and educate voters, create grassroots community organizing initiatives and employ many more strategies toward a more participatory democracy.

Our ESG investment portfolio is enabling us to give all these strategies a boost without burdening our partners with extra red tape.

The commonly accepted, traditional investment mantra used to be that financial return was generated independent of socially responsible ESG considerations. It was either/or: Either you invested strictly for return and didn’t pursue ESG outcomes, or you invested for social and environmental good and accepted a diminished return. Not anymore. ESG-oriented portfolios do generate competitive returns while providing beneficial impacts.

Read the full article about strategic investments by  Ken Mountcastle at the National Center for Family Philanthropy.