The Austin Mission Investing Institute, hosted three weeks ago by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, was as good a chance for me to learn about how foundations are approaching the field as it was for attendees to learn about core issues in mission investing. Attendees came from a variety of foundation types (private, community, family); sizes (relatively small to very large); experience with mission investing; and interest areas. The curriculum balanced general discussion on topics such as strategic development, deal analysis, and legal requirements with extended focus on three mission investing issue areas: health, education, and place-based investing.
As too much valuable information was shared at the Institute to be succinctly presented here, I’ll just mention three things among the many that struck me:
- No matter the type or size or focus of foundations, process issues in mission investing overlap considerably. Building board support and consensus, developing a practicable strategy, learning how to integrate mission investing into existing financial practices or to develop new ones: foundations of all sizes have to engage in these discussions. Their decision trees lead, obviously, to very different outcomes, but at least at the level of process, this is recognizably a distinct field for philanthropic investors of different types. [read more...]