It is not often that you can find inspiration within the Treasury regulations. But if you are a family foundation looking for innovative ways of pursuing your charitable mission, you will come away from reading the nineteen examples in the regulations finalized by the Treasury Department last year with a new enthusiasm for program-related investments, known simply as PRIs. The stories these examples tell of the myriad ways PRIs can achieve positive impact will be compelling to many foundations, especially those that have been reluctant to incorporate PRIs into their grantmaking and investment strategies.
From April 9 to April 12, I had the good fortune to be part of the Council on Foundations 2016 Annual Conference. The Council welcomed nearly 1,400 leaders in the philanthropic sector to Washington, D.C., for plenary programs and concurrent sessions focused on "the Future of Community through the lenses of identity, purpose, and place." Here are four of my biggest takeaways from the Conference:
1. When you want to fill a room to capacity, talk about the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. One concurrent session was so popular that attendees filled the seats, stood along the walls and sat on the floor. The topic that drew this crowd was "Philanthropy Outside the Tax-Exempt Model." The discussion covered the alternative vehicles for individual and corporate giving, such as public benefit corporations, L3Cs and B-Corp certified companies, which have been embraced by a new generation of philanthropists, most notably Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan.
Foundations are effective vehicles for families who want to make a collective philanthropic impact now and for generations to come. Traditionally, foundations have achieved this impact solely through strategic grantmaking. A growing number of foundations are looking for ways to go further, however. These foundations seek strategies that will allow them to deploy their investment portfolios – in addition to grantmaking – to advance their charitable missions without hurting the value of their endowments long-term. One such strategy, using “mission-related investments” or MRIs, is trending in the press and at sector conferences, but most foundation directors and trustees have yet to jump on its bandwagon. New guidance from the IRS may change that.
- Editor in Chief, Co-Chair, Nonprofit and Social Impact practice group
- Chair, Tax Department and Co-Chair, Nonprofit and Social Impact practice group