Impact Investing

Impact Investing

Impact investing is a bundle of practices that allow asset owners like foundations to invest for financial returns while also achieving mission impact. This strategy can complement and amplify all of the foundation’s other activities, such as grantmaking, communications and convening. It can take a mission-neutral asset like the endowment, and actively use it to advance the foundation’s core purpose.

Within the endowment, impact investing allows a foundation to consider mission results along with financial returns when choosing funds, fund managers, strategies and endowment holdings. The foundation can avoid investments whose impacts run counter to its values and mission, and it can prioritize investments that advance their values and mission. Foundations that adopt impact investing frequently incorporate racial, social and gender equity into the principles of their investment policy statements.

Even though they adopt these impact investing tools, foundations seek good financial returns that fund the spending policy and meet perpetuity goals.

Because foundations are rooted in a tax-exempt, mission-based business structure, they are natural leaders in impact investing. The cumulative influence and demand from foundations has sparked the establishment of specialized impact investment advisor firms. Foundation demand has supported innovation and growth of mission-based investing opportunities in every asset class. And most recently, foundations are working to dismantle injustices in investing systems that are related to race, gender and social class.

A Thriving Regional Ecosystem

The Northwest has a thriving impact investing ecosystem, which we champion in Philanthropy Northwest’s network, programs and publications. Below are our members and partners that have active impact investing programs: 

The Annie E. Casey Foundation Ben B. Cheney Foundation Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Canopy
Empire Health Foundation Enterprise Ford Foundation

Greater Tacoma Community Foundation

Meyer Memorial Trust Northwest Area Foundation The O.P. and W.E. Edwards Foundation Rasmuson Foundation
The Russell Family Foundation Seattle Foundation Whatcom Community Foundation  

Growing Impact Investing in the Pacific Northwest

Philanthropy Northwest is committed to building capacity and supporting foundations to use impact investing. Start strengthening your impact investing efforts today by getting involved with the services and projects below.

Impact Investing Consulting Services

Our consulting team at The Giving Practice offers a full suite of services to help you explore, launch or deepen an impact investing program. We can:

  • Help your board, investment committee and financial advisor explore whether impact investing is a fit for your organization;
  • Create an impact investing strategy that aligns with your mission;
  • Analyze individual investments and help committees make investment decisions. 

Philanthropy Northwest welcomes questions from members about impact investing. To arrange a no-cost consultation, please contact our Membership Director, Danielle Crystal

Local Impact Bond Project 

In early 2019, Philanthropy Northwest announced an impact investing collaboration with RBC Global Asset Management (RBC GAM) to support homeownership, affordable housing and social impact in communities in the northwest.

Our collaboration allows foundations and grantmakers to invest in RBC GAM’s impact investing strategies within their fixed income allocation. The funds are invested within the foundation's geography, or on a mission theme that is important to the foundation. Visit the online hub for more comprehensive information about the RBC Global Asset Management & Philanthropy Northwest Impact Investment Collaborative. For our network members, you may be interested in learning more about the Local Impact Bond Project in this FAQ.

Impact Investing Resources

Find some of our publications geared specifically to foundations and foundation investment committees collaboratives below.