Grantee/Partner News

Leaders of the 100% Club: The Compton and Heron Foundations on 100% Mission Investing

April 10, 2014

Grantee News From the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy:

This post is the first in a three-part series following up on the recent winter issue of Responsive Philanthropy, which was all about mission investing. Be sure to check back here over the next few weeks for more on this important topic.

We got in touch with two foundations, the Compton Foundation and the F.B. Heron Foundation, that are committed to 100% mission investing – meaning they only invest their endowment assets in opportunities that align with their missions.

NCRP has long applauded the efforts and values of both organizations. The Compton Foundation was founded in 1946 to promote world peace. Today the Foundation makes grants that support transformative leadership and courageous storytelling in pursuit of social and environmental change. Last year, Compton trustees voted to move their portfolio to 100 percent mission investing. F.B. Heron was founded in 1992 to stimulate job growth and encourage systemic change throughout the U.S. economic system. As part of their goal for full accountability, they made the switch to 100 percent MI in 2011.

We asked their leaders one simple question: Why did your foundation decide to go 100% on mission investing? Read on to learn their inspiring responses!

Ellen Friedman, Executive Director, Compton Foundation:

The movement to align all foundation resources with mission has many names – socially responsible investing, impact investing, mission aligned investing – but at its heart what it’s about for the Compton Foundation is “All-In Philanthropy.” We want to use every asset we have – grants, investments, people, networks – to strategically and urgently advance our mission. It is not morally consistent to make grants with just 5 percent of our resources while 95 percent of our resources are invested in ways that undermine the movements we hope to propel with our grants. Our investments and our grants are part of one overarching ecosystem of strategies to advance change. Using our market power as investors is a critical, if under used, tool in the kit available to all foundations that seek to advance a social and environmental change mission.

Read more about Compton’s “All-In Philanthropy” approach here.


Clara Miller, President, F.B. Heron Foundation:

Heron has for years focused on equipping families at the bottom of the economic and social scale to join “the mainstream.” Our efforts presumed the existence of a healthy and growing labor market – a reliable main stream that, if it could be entered, would flow steadily toward opportunity. In 2011 we concluded that our strategy had outlasted the premises on which it was founded. The evidence showed that the mainstream was unreliable for many and that poverty was on the rise.

We have changed our approach. Business as usual – with respect to both strategy and the way we operate as a foundation – is no longer an option. We no longer define ourselves primarily as a grantmaking foundation. Philanthropic assets have always been a source of investable capital for fostering the enterprises that may be able to help overcome economic challenges, so our philanthropic tool kit now includes every investment instrument, all asset classes and all enterprise types. Every Heron asset is mission critical.

Alison Howard is communications associate at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP). Follow NCRP on Twitter (@ncrp).

Photos courtesy of the Compton Foundation and F.B. Heron Foundation.



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