In service to our mission to advance racial equity and racial justice, our finance team continues to push beyond industry norms to offer uniquely impactful opportunities for our fund advisors to help build economic equity for all. As a result, East Bay Community Foundation (EBCF) gives fund advisors the ability to make impact investments from their Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs), in addition to grants, as a part of their overall giving strategy. 

The impact investments fund advisors can recommend from their DAFs are called PRIs, or program-related investments. This kind of impact investment must be used in service of a philanthropic mission (program-related), and they must be intended to eventually provide a return on investment.   

One of the many benefits of PRIs is that they are not restricted to 501(c)3 charitable organizations. Through their DAFs at EBCF, fund advisors can invest in nonprofits, for-profit businesses, or even individuals, as long as the investment serves the express purpose of furthering EBCF’s mission of advancing racial equity and racial justice.  

All program-related investments must be concessionary, which means the cost of capital must be less expensive, allow for more favorable covenants, and be more accessible than the market is currently offering. It is important to clarify that while PRIs are required to have a lower cost of capital than market-rate investments, it does not mean that the terms of PRIs must be objectively low – our PRIs have a track record of generating sizable returns! 

For loans, in addition to having lower interest rates, PRIs can also be concessionary by having longer repayment terms, or by eliminating requirements such as capital guarantees, which often present barriers for Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) founders. For equity investments, PRIs often have less restrictive oversight covenants and lack pressure for quick exit strategies. 

Importantly, all returns generated from PRIs must remain in the DAF from which the investment was made. Returns cannot be extracted by any individual or an organization: Profits generated from PRIs continue to be re-deployed into the community for further impact. 

In 2021, our finance team codified the process to allow fund advisors to recommend the following types of program-related investments (PRIs) from their Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs): 

LOANS  

Fund advisors can lend money from their DAF as a loan to be paid back over an agreed upon term, with interest at an agreed upon rate.  

Here’s a powerful example of the impact one of our fund advisors created using their DAF for a program-related investment: In 2021, a nonprofit organization called the National Housing Trust was accumulating capital to fund an affordable housing project for a Black community at risk of displacement from their historic neighborhood. Kaiser Permanente, an EBCF fund advisor, made a $5M loan from their DAF to support their effort. The loan terms were concessionary by requiring only 1% simple interest per year over a 10-year term, a rate well below market rate at the time. Thanks to PRIs like this, National Housing Trust was able to deploy large amounts of capital to developers and earn some minimal profits from the interest rates. At the end of the 10-year term, the loan will be repaid to the DAF with interest, so our fund advisor will have an additional $500,000 in their DAF to redistribute for further social impact.  

LOAN GUARANTEES 

A loan guarantee is capital lent to an organization or founder that allows them to secure a loan with the promise, or “guarantee,” that the loan guarantor is responsible for any or all of the debt in the event that a borrower defaults. Put simply, a loan guarantee provides insurance for the borrower and provides security for the lenders.  

Here’s how one EBCF fund advisor used a loan guarantee to help a local nonprofit: When a local East Bay nonprofit decided to purchase a new building, they needed both loans and equity investments to complete the purchase. Since the equity in the property was owned by their investors, it could not be used as a guarantee to secure the loans. Instead of loaning the money, the DAF fund advisor invested in the form of a loan guarantee for the other lenders, giving the nonprofit the ability to close the remaining capital needed to complete their building purchase, and earning guarantee rates that will return to their DAF to be re-deployed to more projects in the future.  

PRIVATE EQUITY INVESTMENTS 

Private equity investments are a great loan option for founders who are not prepared to take on debt, as the investment is made in exchange for equity in the organization.  

When The Town Kitchen wanted to increase their employee resources such as housing assistance, GED courses, and legal aid to their formerly incarcerated and formerly fostered youth workforce, they determined the best way to do so was to expand and purchase another business where they could apply their open hiring techniques. Thanks to private equity investments from two EBCF DAFs (as well as several other impact investors), The Town Kitchen was able to purchase the additional business without burdening their growing enterprise with debt. Since PRIs are concessionary, the favorable terms will provide them the time and capital they need to sustainably grow the business. Eventually, if they experience an exit through another equity offering or an acquisition, the DAF will receive a return based on the value of the equity at that time, leading to a possible positive gain for the DAF.  

IMPACT INVESTMENTS AT THE LOCAL AND NATIONAL LEVEL 

At EBCF, fund advisors wishing to make program-related investments from their DAFs can choose between two categories. The first is donor-directed PRIs, where fund advisors can make any investment that interests them from anywhere across the U.S., provided it meets our mission-alignment criteria. All investments and grants made through DAFs must be approved by our legal and finance team; and since donor-directed PRIs are brought in on a case-by-case basis, each must go through its own process of due diligence and approval. 

The second category is local East Bay PRIs: a portfolio of investment opportunities carefully curated by our team. Over the past year, we have presented this type of investment opportunity at our Inclusive Economy Showcase events. Sessions were recorded and can be viewed at any time. One big benefit of a local East Bay PRI is that our team has already conducted due diligence and received approvals for each of the founders and organizations featured, making it an easy option for fund advisors to quickly deploy dollars to our community. 

JOIN EAST BAY COMMUNITY FOUNDATION!  

Program-related investments outlined in this article offer valuable opportunities for deserving founders to build and scale organizations in a sustainable way. For founders who struggle to access traditional investments or loans (especially BIPOC, women, and other historically disadvantaged groups), PRIs improve access to capital and ultimately serve our mission of advancing economic equity for all. That’s why our finance team works diligently to enable EBCF fund advisors to use these tools to broaden your overall giving strategy. 

Explore additional features and benefits of working with EBCF for your philanthropic giving on our Get Started page or by contacting our development team at development@eastbaycf.org.  

To make an impact investment from your DAF in the form of a loan, loan guarantee, or equity investment, please contact Elizabeth Burger, Impact Investing Manager, at eburger@eastbaycf.org.  

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