MICROFINANCE BRIEF: Ford Foundation to Invest $1b Over 10 Years in Mission-related Investments Such as Financial Services in Developing Countries, Affordable Housing in the US

The US-based Ford Foundation recently announced plans to disburse USD 1 billion in “mission-related investments” with initial foci on access to financial services in developing countries and affordable housing in the US. Because foundations in the US are required to spend 5 percent of their endowment on charitable purposes, many invest the other 95 percent of their assets with the aim of replenishing that 5 percent, often without regard to social impact. For the Ford Foundation, this led to annual grantmaking of roughly USD 500 million. Ford Foundation President Darren Walker writes: “If philanthropy’s past half century was about optimizing the 5 percent, its next half century will be about beginning to harness the 95 percent as well, carefully and creatively.”

The Ford Foundation, which was chartered in 1936 by Edsel Ford, provides grants and loans that address issues of civic engagement, human rights, social justice, economic fairness, metropolitan opportunity (jobs, school transportation, housing), sustainable development, education, freedom of expression, and sexuality and reproductive health and rights. As of 2015, it reported total assets of USD 12.1 billion and program activities of USD 657 million.

By Sascha Strobl, Research Associate

Sources and Additional Resources:

Ford Foundation announcement:
https://www.fordfoundation.org/the-latest/news/ford-foundation-commits-1-billion-from-endowment-to-mission-related-investments/

Ford Foundation blog post:
https://www.fordfoundation.org/ideas/equals-change-blog/posts/unleashing-the-power-of-endowments-the-next-great-challenge-for-philanthropy/

Ford Foundation financial statements:
https://fordfoundcontent.blob.core.windows.net/media/2960/2015-audited-financial-statements-copy.pdf

New York Times story on Ford Foundation announcement:
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/13/business/ford-foundation-mission-investment.html?_r=0

Ford Foundation on MicroCapital:
https://www.microcapital.org/microcapital-brief-new-criteria-announced-for-social-performance-reporting-awards-from-cgap-consultative-group-to-assist-the-poor-michael-and-susan-dell-foundation-ford-foundation-microfinance-i/

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