Rosalie Sheehy Cates

Sheehy Cates
Senior Advisor, The Giving Practice and Impact Investing Catalyst Fellow

Rosalie Sheehy Cates helps foundations with impact investing. She combines respect for the fiduciary role with a curious and generative approach to investing. Rosalie can help boards with impact investing exploration; formal decision-making; and crafting policies and procedures. She also trains and mentors foundation staff and investment committees by working through real transactions hands-on. Her ready-to-use templates for policies, procedures and deal analysis have proven useful at many foundations. Rosalie also facilitates research and conversation pertinent to foundation fiduciaries and she works with investor collaboratives.

Rosalie is a business lender at heart. She served as CEO of a $45 million non-profit loan fund in Montana for 14 years. She lived in Wisconsin during the 1980s, where she was an organizer for family farms and sustainable agriculture and helped with her family’s small cattle operation. Rosalie lives now in Missoula, Montana, where she is part of an informal investor group, reads and walks a lot, and is Vice Chairperson of the board of Headwaters Health Foundation.


Rosalie Sheehy Cates's blog posts

July 18, 2019

It’s magic to watch impact investing happen in a small town. In June, a group of local people met in Missoula, Montana for 90 minutes and crafted a $300,000 loan enabling a nonprofit organization to buy land for an innovative affordable housing development. Their transaction paves the way for Homeword to develop up to 72 new homes and support services that are sorely needed in Missoula.  more »

May 30, 2019

There is nothing like impact investing to bring mental models to the fore for foundation boards and investing committees. We all have our view of impact investing, and it is often based on “something I heard” or a random example. more »

November 26, 2018

Behind every great foundation is… a lot of money. We know those funds have to be invested to generate returns that pay for grants and operations. But can the money at the heart of the foundation business model be responsive to a foundation’s important values of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)? The answer to this question is yes. You can read all about it our new report that includes interviews with executives at eight large foundations that have embraced organization-wide DEI efforts. more »

July 9, 2018

Risk is a huge and relevant topic for investors. Rosalie asks, "do we take it too far?" This post is part of a multi-part blog series about innovative foundations and financial advisors working to make impact investments in the (mostly) Pacific Northwest region. more »

March 22, 2018

The first in a series of "Front Row Seat" vignettes on impact investing, I'm pleased to share how Northwest Area Foundation has cracked an important investing nut for foundations—finding market-rate investments in its rural, small-town service areas. They did it, and you can too.  more »

November 28, 2017

If you are an endowment manager, or an impact investor, we’ve two new resources for you! Now available for download: The Council on Foundations and Commonfund Institute's 2016 Study of Investment of Endowments for Private and Community Foundations as well as Philanthropy Northwest's Foundation Guide to Investing in Community Development Financial Institutions.

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September 6, 2017

Philanthropy Northwest is exploring a bond fund that would give members an easy new way to make investments in the communities they care about. Modeled after a successful effort in Minnesota, we’re excited to explore this opportunity with our members. I’ll be hosting a lunch meeting during the annual conference where members can learn more and share ideas.  more »

February 22, 2017

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. more »

July 17, 2016

Business is changing the world. Foundations are built to make grants to nonprofits, but if foundations want to influence change, we have to work in the for-profit business sector, too. It's that simple. The tool for this is investing. If we don’t do this, our foundation efforts are limited to the capacity of the nonprofit sector to steer the course, or clean up the mess. more »

May 25, 2016

It’s not every day you find the top officers from the biggest foundations in the United States chatting about their commitment to impact investing. It happened, though, at the Mission Investors Exchange (MIE) biennial conference in Baltimore, Maryland. From May 9 to 11, the CEOs of Meyer Memorial Trust and the Ford, Kresge, MacArthur, McKnight and Surdna foundations each took the stage to share their stories, commitment and strategies for "Seizing the Momentum" of impact investing. The size and stature of these foundations are a testament to MIE’s organizational reach and impact investing’s increasingly mainstream appeal. It may be a little overwhelming however, for smaller foundations and organizations just beginning to explore this tool. The MIE conference can feel like the arcade at the state fair: Over here we have real estate strategies to fight gentrification! Over there are fisheries, already accelerated to Version 2.0!  And over there, how to invest our way out of climate change! I think this is overwhelming in a good way, though. more »

September 9, 2015

Rosalie Sheehy Cates, Senior Advisor, The Giving Practice | I officially declare that mission investing among foundations and family offices is at a tipping point. The number of early adopters has reached a critical mass, providing enough results and pulling enough products and services into the market to tempt mainstream audiences to take a serious look. Mission investing is everywhere — it comes up at conferences, in board rooms and at professional meetings. New funds and managers are introduced every week. Hold onto your hats, because it looks like the sector will be very, very busy in the next few years. more »