Recommendation #1 in The Canadian Task Force on Social Finance’s report “Mobilizing Private Capital for Public Good” is for foundations:
To maximize their impact in fulfilling their mission, Canada’s public and private foundations should invest at least 10% of their capital in mission-related investments (MRI) by 2020 and report annually to the public on their activity.
This suggestion is more than a brilliant tactic to help foundations strengthen their social impact through their financial decision making. Mission focused investments also allow foundations to avoid investing in products and organizations that are implicated in creating the very challenges their grantees work to address.
For (hopefully extreme) example, you want to avoid funding cancer care with grant money made by investing in tobacco. Makes sense right?
Decisions matter, whether you’re acting as an individual or as an organization. It’s contradictory to care about local food and wear say, Joe Fresh clothing. When you’re invested in social issues you have to bear the burden of carefully thinking through how all of your choices align (or not) with your values.
If your organization is focused on developing community and more resilient local economies, should you hire a design firm that works for big box retailers?
If your mandate includes environmental concerns, should you work with a PR firm that takes on clients who work for dubious Mega quarry projects?
If you’re addressing obesity, or marketing to children, should you work with an agency that helps a soft drink client?
If this thought has occurred to you, the good news is there are B Corps, who take the impact of their practices into account. BCorp is housed at MaRS’ Centre for Impact Investing and provides third party validation that organizations are on a mission to deliver value to all stakeholders including employees, the community and the environment.
You’ll be much more effective at building a better world with your right hand and left hand working together.