The number of potential ways that PRIs can be used to advance charitable impacts and structured financially is basically limitless. PRIs can be made to any kind of entity and take on any financial form, as long as the relevant requirements are met. We honor and highlight the work of many leading foundations who have pioneered the use of PRIs over the years, including but by no means limited to...
Ford Foundation is generally credited with making the first PRI, a $1M loan to a museum in Harlem in 1968. Ford Foundation also famously made a critical PRI to Grameen Bank in 1981 to partially guarantee defaults under an experimental rural credit program for the landless poor in Bangladesh, which ultimately proved the viability of microcredit as an impactful and financially viable model. According to IRIS, an initiative of Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), Ford Foundation has made more than $550M in PRIs to date and currently manages a $280M PRI portfolio.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced in 2009 that it was creating a $400M PRI fund, which has since grown to $1.5B. By the summer of 2016, the Gates Foundation reported having deployed more than $1B into 47 investments. The Gates PRI portfolio is remarkable for the way it advances various program priorities through a diverse set of investment structures and working acrosss sectors. Susan Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Gates Foundation, explains their creative use of PRIs saying simply, "We need all the tools at our disposal."
Headquartered in Minnesota, Northwest Area Foundation made a 10-year commitment to mission investing starting in 2004, which included $10M in Program-Related Investments to seed and grow businesses in their region. In 2014, it renewed that same $10M commitment to PRIs for another decade and increased its allocation to market-rate Mission-Related Investments from $10M to $30M. Northwest Area Foundation typically uses PRIs to help capitalize CDFI's, create good jobs in communities where they are hard to come by, and promote financial inclusion in under-served communities.
Since 1986 the MacArthur Foundation has used program-related investments (PRIs) to provide approximately $500 million to more than 200 recipients in the U.S. and around the world. Over the past decade, MacArthur Foundation has used PRIs to pursue three programmatic objectives: to help grow the capacity of existing well-managed CDFIs to serve the field; to preserve affordable rental housing in Chicago and nationally through the Window of Opportunity Initiative; and to advance community and economic development in Chicago, including the transformation of public housing and foreclosure prevention and mitigation.
Shell Foundation is an independent UK charity founded by and affiliated with Shell Group in 2000 to create and scale new solutions to global development challenges. Shell Foundation uses PRIs extensively and creatively as part of its "enterprise-model" approach to addressing energy access issues and poverty around the world. As of the end of 2015, Shell Foundation had over $20M of PRIs on its books. Some of the companies and organizations in its diverse PRI portfolio include EnviroFit, d.light, Embarq, and GroFin.
The McKnight Foundation has been making PRIs since the 1980s. In 2014, however, McKnight made a major strategic commitment to investing $200 million of its endowment in strategies that align with its mission. $50 million of this amount was allocated to PRIs. Recent investees include the Family Housing Fund, Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, and The Conservation Fund.
Venn Foundation also honors the pioneering efforts of organizations such as those listed below that have played a leading role in building a movement around PRI's and impact investing more broadly.
Mission Investors Exchange (MIE) is the leading voice for philanthropy and mission-aligned investors in the impact investing market. A national network of over 200 foundations and affiliate members, MIE offers a robust platform for sharing tools and best practices, empowers foundations and other investors to take bolder steps to align their assets with mission, provides access to investment opportunities, and promotes the policy and market conditions necessary to grow the impact investing field.
The Impact Finance Center is dedicated to catalyzing investments that produce enduring value for the investor, society, and our environment. We believe that every investment has an impact – our job is to help our clients and partners understand those impacts on a broader scale and maximize the benefits while minimizing unintended harm.
PRIME is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower philanthropic foundations and families with the critical tools they need to support new ventures that promise vast reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions. PRIME was purpose-built in 2014 as a 501c3 public charity to lower the barriers that make early-stage investments in technology-heavy ventures prohibitively difficult for many types of philanthropic organizations.