You may have heard of an opportunity through the Community Foundation called impact investing. If you are anything like me, when you first heard it, you probably had a lot of questions about what this is and does it change the way the Community Foundation does its work. The answers to those questions are yes and no.

Impact investing in its simple form is purposefully making investments that help provide social impacts that benefit our communities. Now you may be asking, what does that mean? The Community Foundation to continue to grow our endowment. Impact investing allows us to do this locally. We work with local businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies to invest in projects across Newaygo, Lake, Mecosta, and Osceola counties. As the investments we provide are completed, they are paid back to the Community Foundation to allow us to do more projects in the future.

The opportunity that impact investing provides allows us to have a broader range of impact in our communities by supporting not only our nonprofits and government entities, but sometimes our local businesses as well. We can generate financial returns while also creating positive social change on a local basis across our communities. The Community Foundation uses its strategic goals around strengthening capacity for people and communities to determine the social impact of a project and engages with our donors to provide impact investment opportunities.

Impact investing consists of a few different opportunities, including working with Northern Initiatives, program-related investments or mission-related investments, or small business loans in partnership with Michigan State University Federal Credit Union. Through these investments, we have supported over $9 million in our communities. Some of these projects include 911 equipment for Central Dispatch in Newaygo County, broadband expansion with Great Lakes Energy, and affordable housing opportunities with various developers.

For more information on our impact investments, contact Maria E. Gonzalez at the Community Foundation at 231.924.5350.