Mission Aligned Investing
Mission Aligned Investment Policy
The Valentine Foundation is committed to aligning up to 10% of its assets in order to increase impact beyond grantmaking activity. We, the trustees of the Valentine Foundation, formally adopt the following Investment Policy Statement to reflect our values—
In order to increase the impact of The Valentine Foundation’s assets and further the mission, up to 10% of our assets will be invested in mission related, and/or socially responsible vehicles. The Foundation’s Investment Policy and asset allocation will be updated to reflect:
- Mission, Goals and Objectives
- Risk and Return Expectations
The most important objective for this Mission Aligned portion of our assets is to promote greater social impact beyond our grantmaking activity. We believe that investing some of our assets in mission-aligned projects enables us to scale up our social impact while achieving philanthropic goals in line with our mission.
Putting Our Money Where Our Mission Is
Mission-aligned investing has been getting some buzz around the philanthropic community for the last few years. So when the Valentine Foundation’s board members heard about it at the PHILAnthropy Annual Conference in 2015, it did not stand out anymore than before. But when a sister family foundation explained how easy it was to expand the reach of their mission, Valentine was in.
The Valentine Foundation began in 1985 by Phoebe Valentine to fund programming that advances social change of women and girls. The Foundation consists of a part-time executive director and a six-member voluntary board who oversee the granting of approximately $180,000 dollars annually. While none of the board members is a trained financial advisor, they work collaboratively with a long standing financial management company (led by a former trustee) to review the endowment’s portfolio at each meeting including the performance of equities, mutual funds, and cash. In the fall of 2016, they realized they could do more.
It started with placing the 5% cash that was sitting in a large bank, whose name is prominent on Wall Street, into a local community held bank. By allocating this cash balance on the local level, Valentine was honoring the ability for local banks to lend locally. And this action was an extremely low risk as the credit union is FICA insured institution.
Next, the trustees considerd how they could use other cash in low risk ways. After all, they did not want to risk the highs and lows of the S&P nor did they want to sit on a CD for 10 years. At this moment, they learned that the Inter-faith Housing Alliance (a 501©3 nonprofit organization dedicated to working with individuals experiencing homelessness) was in need of a loan to rehab a property that would serve families in transition.
Inter-Faith Housing Alliance
Valentine Foundation considered the risk – by lending Inter-Faith $30,000 over five years at an extremely low interest rate, they would experience the same financial gains of a CD. And while the risk might seem higher, they evaluated Inter-Faith’s financial statements, references, and project scope and decided the risk was low. There was already other committed funding on the line with Inter-Faith’s project and Valentine could create a lift with the renovation project. It was a win-win.
The advisement of that sister family foundation cannot go unnamed. It was the contact and support of Laura Kind McKenna, formerly the executive director of the Kind Foundation, that helped the Trustees keep these activities simple while protecting their endowment. Valentine is extending this type of support to other small foundations as it was this pivotal peer advice that led to their action.
The Reinvestment Fund
In 2018 the Foundation added a $100,000 investment in the Reinvestment Fund, PhilaImpact Fund, a Community Development Financial Institution Fund (CDFI Fund) that plays an important role in generating economic growth and opportunity in the Greater Philadelphia region.
2019 Mission Aligned Update
We continued to pursue our 10% commitment to mission aligned investing in 2019. The board approved a 5-year $25,000 working capital investment in First Step Staffing, adding workforce development and returning citizens to our areas of impact. First Step Staffing connects people experiencing homelessness and those returning from prison with jobs. The Atlanta-based non-profit opened operations in Philadelphia in January 2018. In July 2019 the Inquirer reported on the job fair they hosted for people who had been arrested and were on pretrial supervision. They had 270 temporary jobs available, with pay ranging from minimum wage to $15 an hour.
First Step provides companies with a socially responsible alternative to typical staffing agencies, while offering meaningful employment opportunities for individuals who are in transition. They provide critical supportive services including job coaching, door to door transportation, uniforms, and other supports needed to increase employees’ chances for long-term success. Upon hearing our proposal Valentine Board member, Annike Sprow, gave it a resounding Yes vote. As a social worker working daily with returning citizens, she knows first-hand the challenges they face in finding employment. She says First Step is a go-to resource for her and that they are truly successful in finding quality jobs for her clients.
In addition to the First Step investment the board also approved expanding the 10% commitment to include the Leadership Fund portion of the Valentine endowment. Contact us at email@example.com if you have a high impact social investment, you’d like us to consider.