The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s purpose is to make New Hampshire a more just, sustainable and vibrant community where everyone can thrive.
But too many of us still face barriers to basic rights and the ability to thrive.
One way we are working to fulfill our purpose is by advancing equity, racial justice and economic security. This is generational work that requires long-term effort — and the use of all the tools in our toolbox.
The most visible tools a community foundation can use to achieve those things are its grant and scholarship programs, initiatives and partnerships, advocacy and communications.
But community foundations have another tool at our disposal for change-making. One that is less visible, but extremely powerful: invested assets.
Like any endowed philanthropy, a community foundation invests most of its assets — and uses earnings from those investments for grantmaking, scholarships, initiatives and operations. In this way, a community foundation can be a source of forever philanthropic capital for a region — and, over time, can grant out dollar amounts far in excess of the amount of the original donations.
The Foundation has a track record of strong investment performance as we seek to maximize dollars available to fund important work in our communities today while prudently stewarding and growing those resources for generations to come.
Hundred Nights’ new facility in Keene (Photo by S and B Connections.)
We are now working to align the Foundation’s investments with our purpose and values — and to do so without sacrificing financial returns. In this way, we are striving to ensure that our invested assets — and the amount granted annually to nonprofits and scholarships — are achieving the greatest possible social benefit.
The Foundation’s assets are overseen by our Investment Committee (which comprises investment professionals and Foundation board members) along with Cambridge Associates, a prominent global investment consultant, and Foundation staff. Together, we have developed a purpose- and values-aligned investment approach which the Foundation board of directors adopted in 2022.
The goal is to generate market-rate financial returns for the majority of the Foundation’s assets while also incorporating sustainable and impact investing criteria for each investment pool.
We have consistently heard in recent years from Foundation donors who want their philanthropic funds to be invested for financial return alongside a social or environmental return. We consider this approach to be both the right and prudent thing to do.
Donors who hold funds at the Foundation may choose from a variety of pools in which to invest their charitable assets.
“We are now working to align the Foundation’s investments with our purpose and values — and to do so without sacrificing financial returns. In this way, we are striving to ensure that our invested assets — and the amount granted annually to nonprofits and scholarships — are achieving the greatest possible social benefit.”-Michael Wilson, chief Investment and financial officer at the New Hampshire Charitable FoundationTweet This
Here are examples of how this money, as invested, can have additional impact:
Our core investment pool is a highly diversified global asset mix designed to maximize long-term returns. Through a multiphase approach in the coming years, we will incorporate environmental, social and governance and racial equity considerations when selecting and working with investment managers for this pool.
Sustainable Impact Pool
The Charitable Foundation has made impact investments in New Hampshire communities dating back to the 1970s, supporting affordable housing, economic development, environmental conservation — and more. We now offer two investment pools that incorporate impact investments. The former Sustainable Pool and Impact Investing Pool have been combined into the Sustainable Impact Pool. This pool is fully purpose- and values-aligned and seeks market-rate returns — which become fuel for future grantmaking. A recent investment from this pool provided bridge capital that the nonprofit Hundred Nights needed to complete financing for construction of a new 48-bed shelter and resource center for families and individuals in Keene.
The New Hampshire Impact Pool
This pool provides long-term, patient capital to high-impact investments in our communities while achieving a modest financial return. To be considered for the pool, an investment must demonstrate it aligns geographically, has a defined and considerable social impact, and is likely to be repaid. A recent investment provided support to Working Fields, a staffing agency that supports people facing employment barriers to help fill workforce gaps. Working Fields provides job-placement support, particularly to people in recovery and/or who are formerly incarcerated, using a peer coaching model. Working Fields also provides support and training to employers.
This pool maintains liquidity for short-term grantmaking flexibility. The BlackRock Liquid Federal Trust Fund is one example where these funds do double-duty for impact. This money market fund seeks to do a majority of its business with firms owned by women, people of color and others who have been historically excluded. The fund also partners with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to fund scholarships and support the educational and professional success of students at historically Black colleges and universities.
This approach will require patience, time and the same diligence with which the Foundation has established its track record of successful investing since 1962. But we believe that using all the tools available to us is the best way to help build a community where everyone can thrive.