Mapping a Foundation's Impact Investing Journey

One hundred million dollars.

That’s how much money Surdna Foundation has now allocated to impact investing, just in time for its 100th anniversary. It’s an exciting decision, and you can read all about the private foundation's decision-making process in Mapping the Journey to Impact Investinga new report researched and drafted by Jan Jaffe, senior partner of The Giving Practice, Philanthropy Northwest's national consulting team.

Starting this year, Surdna will make impact investments in the endowment portfolio, as well as through program-related investments (PRIs). Other tools, such as using mission criteria to choose fund managers, will be applied across Surdna’s portfolio.

Surdna's board took nine months to educate itself about impact investing, then to decide on this bold course. The Giving Practice designed and led the work, in partnership with Veris Wealth Partners

The report is a good peek inside the boardroom, and will be very helpful to other foundations considering the same journey. It covers the board’s preparation for the impact investing decision, its education and decision-making process, key mile-markers and some bumps we hit along the way. 

A final note: it doesn’t take $100 million to align your foundation assets with mission. Watch this space for more ideas for impact investing at all asset levels.

Rosalie Sheehy Cates is a Philanthropy Northwest Catalyst Fellow, focused on impact investing, and a senior advisor to The Giving Practice, our national consulting team. She can be reached at