When the IDP Foundation was established in 2008, we knew that we did not want to make grants to causes that would always be dependent on aid. We were very strategic in making sure that our grants were more designed to be catalytic seed stage capital that enabled the grantee to leverage the grant into mobilizing more resources that resulted in greater social impact.
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After five years of seeing the success of this strategy, we began to think that the way we invested the corpus of the foundation should also have greater social impact. We questioned if it was possible to utilize all the foundation’s resources (not just five percent of the corpus legally mandated for grant making) to create greater social change. This led us to carefully research the impact investing world, and we became convinced that we should completely reorganize our approach to investing and join the impact movement.
At that time, we found that few wealth advisors had any depth of experience in the area. Nonetheless we challenged our financial consultants at Graystone Consulting, a business of Morgan Stanley, to restructure our portfolio with the aim of becoming 100% impact invested. We also mandated that we did not want concessionary returns and expected the same high rate of return that we had experienced with our more traditional investment products.
Fortunately for us, our consultants also realized that client demand for impact investments was increasing and were energized to take this journey with us. They quickly became very proactive in looking for products that would satisfy our vision and deliver returns that either met or exceeded the benchmarks that measured the various asset classes. Read more about how we measure the impact of our investments.
At the beginning, it was challenging to find institutional quality impact-focused strategies that met our needs. However, in the past few years, the impact investing field has evolved so quickly that more and more funds with the potential to produce social change and financial returns have become available.
We made our first impact investment in 2013 and in just five short years we are proud to have achieved a 95% mission-aligned portfolio, indicating we are well on our way to reaching our goal of 100% mission-alignment.
We are also proud to report that we have been able to achieve both our financial and impact objectives, underscoring our belief that in engaging in impact or mission-aligned investing, financial returns do not need to be sacrificed. In the foundation’s portfolio, our impact managers have kept pace with or outperformed all of the non-environmental, social and governance (ESG) benchmarks.