Study: Foundations using investments to further their causes

More U.S. foundations are making investments that further their missions, according to a report from the Foundation Center.

The report, “Key Facts on Mission Investing,” the first done by the center, surveyed nearly 1,200 foundations with a combined $215 billion in assets. Of those, 168 foundations with $119.2 billion in assets engage in some form of mission investing, of which there are two types: program-related investments, often loans, loan guarantees or equity investments that count toward a foundation's charitable distribution requirements; and mission-related investments, which broadly support a foundation's goals but do not count toward charitable distribution requirements.

More than half of respondents began making those types of investments in the past five years and 28% within the past two years.

The survey found 50% of mission-investing foundations making program-related investments only; 22%, mission-related investments only; and 28% investing through both.

Larger foundations are more likely to hold mission investments. Of foundations that reported total giving of more than $10 million per year, 32% hold mission investments; foundations reporting between $1 million and $10 million in total giving, 16%; and foundations reporting less than $1 million, 7%.

The Foundation Center is a worldwide philanthropy data and research center.