Nonprofits as impact investors: Aligning our finances with our mission

Headshots of BII CEO Betty Francisco and Eric Leslie, founder and lead organizer of Union Capital Boston.

Este artículo está disponible en español, traducido por El Planeta Media.

Across the nonprofit sector, there is growing recognition that our financial practices should be consistent with our mission. While small nonprofits typically have relatively modest assets – nationwide, more than half had less than $1 million as of 2019, and almost two in five had less than $500,000 – collectively, they hold billions in cash, savings, and financial investments. That’s real money – but currently, much of it is kept in bank accounts, earning modest interest rates, or else it’s invested in conventional financial instruments like mutual funds.

In a new op-ed in Boston Business Journal, BII CEO Betty Francisco and Eric Leslie, founder and lead organizer of Union Capital Boston, discuss how investing in an impact fund that is aligned with a nonprofit’s mission, as UCB did with BII, can be a way to enhance its impact while achieving financial returns to support other programs. Within communities, meanwhile, that additional investment can translate into much-needed economic growth and job opportunities.

Leslie notes that finding the right impact-investing partner was not without its challenges, as private impact investment opportunities are typically reserved for wealthy individuals and organizations, excluding most nonprofits. BII made sense, with its Boston roots, integrated capital approach and focus on racial and economic justice. As a nonprofit impact investment fund, BII is democratizing impact investing for community organizations like UCB and local residents, who can participate with as little as $1,000 through a community note.

The authors see enormous potential for the shift in capital that UCB and BII have modeled, which they see as necessary to support systemic change in Boston and nationwide. They identify different resources for nonprofits looking for a fund that is working to build a more just, equitable, and sustainable world, and conclude: “In today’s world, money is power. Let’s use our power for good.”