Going Beyond the Grant

Momentum is picking up for investments that can produce a financial return while improving social conditions, as pressure persists on traditional funding sources and the ranks of social entrepreneurs increase.

Rising interest in so-called impact investing has many foundations either already making investments or considering them as an extension of their traditional philanthropy or grant-making.

Foundations such as Kresge are making program-related investments from their grant budgets for below-market or zero-percent returns. Those can take the form of loans, equity stakes, loan guarantees in which foundations agree to back other loans, and cash investments.

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Fisher Seeks Investors Who Want to Make a Social Impact

Phillip Fisher plans to create a fund to work on social issues and support social entrepreneurs.

What if money invested in organizations working to improve social conditions could be redeployed over and over, while providing a financial and social-impact return for those supporting the work? The concept isn’t new; a few large foundations have been making investments—in addition to grants—in work related to their missions for years. But Phillip Fisher, founder of Mission Throttle L3C and vice chairman of the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Family Foundation, hopes to attract a new class of investors, from individuals to corporations and government, to support Michigan-based social-impact efforts and social entrepreneurs through investments in a new social-impact fund that he hopes will attract $10 million to $50 million. That, experts say, is a game changer.

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