The Ford Foundation recently announced that they will invest $1 billion of their $12 b endowment in mission-related investments. This is a Big Deal. It’s the largest commitment of its kind from a private foundation, and the shift builds upon Ford’s sharpened mission in recent years, as they focus on combating inequality.
Why is this such a big deal? Well, first, it’s a billion dollars, which is pretty great. And second, once one “mega” does something, it is a lot easier for their mega-peers to do something too.
Most of all it means that we are marking the beginning of an era that gets beyond the “5% rule,” where foundations give away 5% of their assets each year. This rule is supposed to be a floor, a minimum requirement set by the IRS, but many large foundations plan their work around giving that 5% annually, and not more. This move shows what’s possible when we unlock the potential of the other 95% of assets…. which currently totals somewhere around $700 billion dollars in the US.
And why now? Quotes from foundation President Darren Walker:
On risk and reward: “There is growing evidence that it is possible to find impact investing opportunities that deliver financial and social, double bottom-line returns.”
On purpose: “My conviction is that this moment offers us an opportunity to be accelerators of justice.”
While we are celebrating this important move, let’s not forget to offer giant props to other pioneers like the Heron Foundation, which has paved the way for other philanthropic organizations by already going “all in” and investing its endowment 100% in alignment with mission.
100%. Now that’s a nice round number.
You can read more in this Forbes article, and this insightful NY Times piece, which examines the board-level discussions at Ford in more detail, came online just as we were hitting “publish” on this post.
P.S. Did you miss our big news?! Change is in the air!