The Russell Family Foundation (TRFF) practices impact investing as a long game built on experiential learning, resilient risk-taking and the primacy of relationships. Contrary to the playbook of traditional investing, where the dominant values are expressed as competition, proprietary and individual benefit, TRFF has chosen to flip the rules in its impact investing to aim toward collaboration (not competition), transparency (not opaqueness), and the common good (not private gain).

Philanthropic foundations by definition and nature are purpose-driven enterprises, and the world we live in increasingly calls us to take a leap and ignite our portfolios to include mission-minded investments.

As foundations, we are meant to be catalytic, to lead by example, play well with others, and learn from instructive failures along the way. That’s true for our community grantmaking and civic engagement, as well as our impact investing strategies.

Our journey is detailed in a new case study explaining our experiential learning—how we’ve reframed our policies and processes; how we’ve created a stronger internal infrastructure and made changes along the way. We hope the story we share serves as a resource to others hungry to flip their playbooks in the long game of impact investing.

We’re still learning and always will be, but to help others go from a little to a lot in impact investing, I offer the following advice.

  • Rethink your investment policy statement to be more explicit; review it regularly. 
  • Establish a new kind of investment committee.
  • Make incremental changes.

Read the full article about impact investing by Richard Woo at the National Center for Family Philanthropy.