frequently asked questions
HOW IS SUCCESS MEASURED?
As we invest to create economic, social, and spiritual transformation, tracking performance across all three areas is critical. Rather than create a rigid, one-size-fits-all methodology, we offer several suggestions that each company can tailor to fit their own culture and goals. The most common measures job creation, women and girls redeemed from trafficking and employed in life-giving enterprises, students educated, numbers of families served with things like potable water, families fed, and increase in income per capita. On the spiritual dimension, some organizations will track people involved in bible studies, church attendance, or involved in giving. Over time we will help the companies develop and share ways in which they determine meaningful progress in these economic, social and spiritual metrics.
WHAT CAN KINGDOM IMPACT LOOK LIKE AT THE COMPANY LEVEL?
To put it simply, the companies we invest in put love into action, as Jesus instructs in the Great Commandment. David Blanchard of Praxis Labs explains it well: “We see a thrilling opportunity for entrepreneurs to be winsome witnesses, creatively demonstrating their faith by being part of the solution. This is the body of Christ at its best, loving our neighbors through the works of our hands.” Some businesses may also engage in “evangelism” as traditionally defined – pursuing the Great Commission of making disciples through the ways in which their leadership teams live their lives.
WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN IMPACT FOUNDATION and national christian foundation?
National Christian Foundation and Impact Foundation are separate organizations, each with their own boards, leadership teams, and unique charitable mandates. The two organizations operate independently to serve generous people who want to make a difference in the world. Impact Foundation is a sister of NCF to provide a streamlined way for givers to invest charitable capital in social enterprises.
what allows you to do this when others can't or won't?
Our small staff size and focused investment process allows us to move much more quickly than older, more established foundations. This speed is key when making venture capital and private equity investments. Plus, the IRS has granted us tax exempt status specifically to focus on investing for impact. Finally, we have adopted an Investment Policy Statement custom-tailored to support impact investing. Read it yourself if you'd like (it's kind of long, but it spells out our philosophy and practice of investing): Investment Policy Statement
describe your minimums and fees
Our minimum investment is $100,000. To fuel our ministry, Impact Foundation collects a fee of 1.5% annually on investments less than $5m (1% over $5m).
are you a charity or a business?
Yes. We are a Georgia nonprofit corporation. And we recognized as tax exempt under 501(c)(3) - that means donors are eligible for a tax deduction when they contribute money to us. While complying with all the state and federal rules for charities, we view ourselves as a business. That means we have a revenue model and employ business disciplines customary of our for-profit peers.
Are there rules for how i can use impact account?
what is kingdom impact investing
Each of the components of this definition deserves attention. First, the idea that we are intentionally placing capital means that Kingdom Impact Investing goes beyond negative screens. This includes biblically or socially responsible investing, where one avoids placing money in “sin stocks” like gambling or in companies that are known environmental polluters. Next, measurement needs to play a key role in assessing impact. When it does, we will better understand whether individual investments, as well as the Kingdom Impact Investing marketplace overall, lives up to expectations. Finally, financial return must be present in an investment portfolio, although individual performance may vary - from risk-adjusted market rate returns to simple return of capital, as the chart below explains.
Read more in our Kingdom Impact Investing white paper.
Without a common and clear definition, Kingdom Impact Investing will struggle to gain traction. Thus we back up to reiterate and examine the concept. Kingdom Impact Investing means
intentionally placing capital to achieve a measurable social/environmental and spiritual gain alongside financial return
All enterprises, regardless of tax status, can produce both social and financial results on a spectrum from positive to negative. Therefore, these investments can be in nonprofits, private companies, venture funds, or private equity funds, and may be structured as debt, equity, or a blend of the two.
what do these words mean?
An Impact Account is a donor advised fund at Impact Foundation, where all assets of a Fund are legally owned by the foundation. We allow donors to advise on how their Impact Account will be invested within the parameters of the foundation's Investment Policy. This means a donor can select the companies in which it wants to invest. When those investments liquidate, the donor can choose to invest in another Impact Company or grant the money to another charity.
According to the Global Impact Investing Network, impact investments are "investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. See more at this page.
Kingdom Impact Company
A Kingdom Impact Company is one that (1) earns financial profit, (2) has measurable, positive social/environmental change, and (3) regularly works toward Kingdom impact. These companies may be organized as LLC's, corporations, partnerships, or one of the fancy new corporate forms like "L3C" or "B Corporation".
Program-Related Investment (PRI)
Program-related investments are codified in the Internal Revenue Code section 4944. A PRI is an investment "the primary purpose of which is to accomplish one or more [charitable] purposes, and no significant purpose of which is the production of income or the appreciation of property, shall not be considered as investments which jeopardize the carrying out of exempt purposes."
Mission-Related Investment (MRI)
The IRS defines Mission Related Investments in Notice 2015-62 as "investments that are made by private foundations for [charitable] purposes described, but are not program-related investments (PRIs) as defined in section 4944(c) and the regulations thereunder".
Charity Enterprise is a profit-making endeavor of a 501(c)(3) that funds and complements a charitable purpose. It’s not just a business that uses only its profits to fund ministry work. The business itself advances the mission. This model blurs the lines between ministry and business, creating social impact, while making a profit at the same time.
Why combine charity and investment?
Impact Foundation didn’t invent the idea of blending charitable impact with investment disciplines. In fact Forbes recently named impact investing as the top trend in philanthropy. Why do so many people find it compelling? Why not simply make a grant to charity?
Charity needs the discipline, revenue production, and job creation of business.
Fundraising is getting tougher and charities need new ways to fund their missions (Check out this blog post on demographics to find out more). A profitable business can do that. Furthermore, certain missions can be accelerated by pairing charity with business. If you want access to the power brokers of a society, you earn that right by creating jobs and building the economy. If you want to lift a society out of poverty, help them build successful businesses.
Business needs the heart of charity to reclaim its purpose as a significant contributor to human flourishing.
God designed his economy - from the beginning, before the Fall - to include man's work as part of His plan. As Eventide (a kingdom-focused mutual fund company) points out, "God chooses to do his great work of provision in a sort of quiet partnership with a very specific group of people — those in business." (I suggest reading the whole article). This means that business has a critically important role in the world beyond simple financial increase. Scripture makes clear that "wealth" extends well beyond economics to include all of human flourishing - access to beauty, rest, friendship, family, healthy community, meaningful work.
But by making the increase of shareholder value the only measure of a successful business, we've lost the true soul of business. Certainly profit is central; without it, there can be no flourishing. It's simply not the only thing that matters. By pairing the other's-focused, missional aspects of charity with wealth creation, we can reclaim the best of what business was intended to be.
Investments in impact companies get a 40% “bonus” with a charitable contribution deduction and potentially multiply your giving impact.
Consider an example. Steve has $100,000 to invest and is choosing between an impact company and a traditional private equity play. Both companies have similar risk profiles and similar potential for return. By investing charitable capital through Impact Foundation in the impact company, Steve can get 40% of his capital back right away in the form of a tax deduction. That means Steve contributes his $100,000 to a charity that uses the money to invest in the impact company. This creates a $100,000 charitable deduction, meaning Steve pays $40,000 less tax this year. That’s $40,000 extra for charitable giving or more impact investing. When the Impact Company distributes profits or the charity sells its ownership, the Foundation transfers the proceeds back to Steve's charitable Impact Fund. Steve now has even more dollars to re-invest in an Impact Company or simply grant to charity. (See the diagram on this link for a visual representation).
Plus, an investment in an Impact Company means that Steve's money is creating social and eternal impact. In traditional private equity, Steve would have to wait years for the company to become profitable and liquidate his ownership before he could use those proceeds to give charitably. But an Impact Company works to complement charitable purposes while growing invested capital.
Ready to get started?
Maclellan whitepaper - a primer on impact investing and story about Maclellan Foundation's experiences with it
Co-investing issues - description of excess business holdings and excess benefit transaction rules that come into play when a donor advised fund is investing in the same deal as a donor
Program Guidelines- the terms of how we govern Impact Accounts
Funding Instructions - wire instructions, where to mail checks
Investment Policy Statement - the principles we use to guide our investing and grant-making
Unrelated Business Income Tax Primer - why and when would a charity have to pay income tax?
Spiritual Integration and Investing - Jeff Johns and Aimee Minnich's white paper from Christian Economic Forum introducing the concept of Kingdom impact investing.