The Growing Returns of Impact Investing

Today's entrepreneurial philanthropists seek strategies to make positive social impact and multiply their financial impact.  Impact investing is a strategy that enables achievement of both goals and it's why more philanthropists are choosing Seattle Foundation as their philanthropic partner. One of our service offerings, impact investing is any type of investment structured to generate both a financial return and a measurable social return.

Seattle Foundation philanthropists can participate in impact investments through a Community Philanthropy Fund, Family or Personal Foundation or Corporate Foundation, including loan guarantees, loans to a nonprofit organizations or equity investments in a business (subject to qualifying criteria and financial feasibility standards). These investments can be made in  for-profit companies working toward positive social and environmental change, and in nonprofit organizations with revenue streams. The principal is generally returned (according to the terms of the specific investment) and the income generated is also returned to the philanthropist’s fund, continuing the cycle of social investment.

Seattle Foundation has been helping philanthropists make impact investments for more than a decade. Our region is flush with entrepreneurs eager to apply private sector financing strategies and discipline to social change, but it can be difficult to know which impact investment opportunities are the best bets in terms of outcomes. Seattle Foundation’s team relies on years of expertise and in-depth community knowledge to help philanthropists make investment decisions that meet both their financial and community impact goals.

Impact Investing - Seattle Foundation

    Two Ways To Get Started

    Philanthropists with a Community Philanthropy Fund can invest in one of Seattle Foundation’s current offerings, which are generated by our team and designed to support one of our investment priorities. If you have a Family Foundation, you can both participate in our current offerings as well as propose an impact investment in a company or nonprofit organization that you identify (subject to qualifying criteria and minimums, board approval and due diligence). This is a great way to mobilize multiple philanthropists to support a project or organization of common interest.   For most impact investments, the minimum per philanthropists’ fund is $25,000. The overall investment must meet a minimum of $100,000 and a term of three years or longer.

    Seattle Foundation Impact Investing Criteria
    • Addresses our Healthy Community Framework
    • Generates ample donor interest
    • Addresses economic and racial equity
    • Located within Foundation's geographic focus area

    Social Impact Investment Strategies


    Choose the Socially
    Responsible Pool (SRI)


    Review offerings here
    starting fall 2016

    Submit your recommendation


    Bring new ideas on
    customized impact investments to Seattle Foundation

    For more information on getting started with impact investing, contact Allison Parker (206.515.2128 or email) or Michael Brown (206.515.2132 or email)

    • 11.64%

      To date, this is the average annualized IRR across all of Alder Fund’s and the Green Canopy energy performance investment is predicting a final return of around 12% for the fund.

      Impact Investing - solar energy
    • 1,541

      Number of jobs generated for immigrant and minority small business owners and entrepreneurs. Impact Investment included 674 loans totaling $48.1M, with 75 loans to women/minority owned business and 11 loans to support community facilities.

    • 985,000

      Lives improved by the Global Partnerships Social Investment Fund in 2010 that had 121 loans made to 42 partners, of which 78% of the total borrowers were women and 55% of total borrowers resided in rural areas.

    Jolene, Ben and Sylvia's story

    This young family has been living in Parker for two years. They moved to Seattle from Tacoma with their two dogs in order for Ben (a disabled veteran) to attend nursing school, and were having difficulty finding housing that they could afford. They love their life in the Parker, and plan on staying until Ben is out of school and they have established themselves in a more stable post-military life.

    First Quarter Investment Report Preview

    Investment Report for First Quarter of 2017

    May 23, 2017

    Seattle Foundation began 2017 with a strong first quarter of investment returns.

    Speaker at Corporate Symposium

    Seattle Foundation and Philanthropy Northwest Host Corporate Responsibility Symposium

    May 22, 2017

    Leaders from Boeing, JP Morgan Chase, Microsoft, Tableau, Starbucks and Walsh Construction share their corporate philanthropic investments and results

    Finger touching touchscreen

    Element Notes

    May 22, 2017

    In this roundup, Mayor Murray will not run for re-election, Amazon permanently gifts a shelter to Mary’s Place and the city council takes on the push for an income tax.

    Impact Investing is an innovative approach for philanthropists who wish to expand their impact beyond grantmaking to include direct investment of their philanthropic dollars into projects and endeavors that further the public good.