CHF is part of a small but growing movement in philanthropy to use investments as more than just a funding stream for community grantmaking. The investment process itself can be a strategic tool for supporting the foundation’s mission. This is known as mission-related or mission-consistent investing. CHF and other foundations across the country are working together to identify mission-consistent strategies and investment tools through groups like Mission Investors Exchange.
Following is a summary of the actions CHF has taken over the years in support of mission-consistent investing:
In 2006 the Foundation’s board amended the Foundation’s Investment Policy Statement to formalize its commitment to mission-consistent investing.
It should be stressed: CHF’s investments will be made, to the extent feasible, in a manner that is consistent with CHF’s mission to improve the health status of Washington, DC area communities – particularly the most vulnerable members of those communities – and with CHF’s fundamental commitment to a marketplace that encourages social responsibility, social justice, diversity, and sustainability.
Very early on in the foundation’s history the board expressed an interested in supporting mission-consistent business practices. This included using local minority contractors for catering, office supplies, and other internal services, but was eventually expanded to include minority fund managers. Since that time, the board and staff have worked with the Foundation’s professional investment advisors to look for opportunities to invest in minority-managed funds.
The board and staff have also committed to prohibiting investments in industries and corporations whose business practices run counter to a public health-driven mission. These are called screens on investments. In 1997, the board passed a resolution prohibiting CHF’s investment in tobacco-related securities. In 1999, the board decided to also screen for manufacturers of firearms.
In 2000, CHF recognized an opportunity to use Program-Related Investments (PRIs) to support the growth and development of high quality nonprofit health care clinics. The Foundation made its first PRI ($750,000 loaned at 1% over 15 years) in 2000 to a local intermediary, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation. In 2005, CHF made a second PRI with the same terms to the Nonprofit Finance Fund, which helped launch the DC Primary Care Association’s Medical Homes DC Initiative, a clinic-based quality and capital improvement project.
Since 2000, CHF has also sought out socially responsible fund managers. These are fund managers who intentionally integrate social and/or environmental criteria into their financial analysis and investment process.
In 2009, CHF opened an operating account with a local Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) because if its mission to provide financial services in underserved communities.