“How to do good through investing?” Aimee Minnich of the Impact Foundation Responds

Situation: How to do good through investing

Tim in Hong Kong posed the question of “How to do good not just through giving, but through investing.”

Others have asked more generally, “How do I invest charitable dollars?”

Our friends Jeff Johns and Aimee Minnich established the Impact Foundation a few years ago to help invest charitable dollars in for-profit projects. Aimee took time to share her thoughts with us.

Scripture:

The chief problem with the world’s view of money is its false assumption that financial capital is the primary measure of wealth.

  • In Proverbs, we learn the biblical definition of “wealth”: Money isn’t everything. Money does not satisfy. (Proverbs 23:4-5)
  • Money is inferior to wisdom. (Proverbs 8:10-11, 18-19; 24: 3-4)
  • Money is inferior to righteousness. (Proverbs 10:2, 11:4, 13:25, 16:8, 19:22, 20:17, 28:6)
  • Money is inferior to the fear of the Lord. (Proverbs 15:16)
  • Money is inferior to humility. (Proverbs 16:19)
  • Money is inferior to good relationships. (Proverbs 15:17, 17:1)

If money is inferior in all these ways, then one can be forgiven for thinking that investors serve a very low function in the Kingdom of God. In reality, the opposite is true.

Impact investing is actively putting capital to work to achieve measurable social, environmental, and financial returns.Impact investing is popular in some circles.

If money is inferior in all these ways, then one can be forgiven for thinking that investors serve a very low function in the Kingdom of God. In reality, the opposite is true.

Donors-advised funds and private foundations hold $700 billion USD; this is money already set aside for giving. But just 7 to 10 percent of this is given away each year. That means $650 billion USD in charitable funds are invested in stock, mutual funds, bonds, etc.

Those investments don’t advance the foundations’ purposes; at best they are neutral.

Some foundations exist to promote environmental stewardship, but find their corpuses are invested in companies that profit from pollution. Those foundations started impact investing to align their investments with their charitable goals. That’s the driver behind impact investing for the secular world.

In 2015, the total assets deployed in impact related investments was $60 billion USD. This is forecasted to grow to $600 billion USD by 2025. This trend is reshaping secular philanthropy and—we believe—deserves a closer look from Christian investors. Imagine the good that could be accomplished from redeploying just a fraction of the $850 billion USD that has been set aside for charitable giving.

We wondered how to expand the practice among Christians. So we created Impact Foundation. We serve an innovative group of donors who are passionate about using their wealth to transform the world for Christ. Having made money in business and capped their own personal net worth so they can give more away, these families are seeking the most powerful ways to make a difference. They wanted a streamlined way to invest (not just grant) charitable capital in businesses that make money and advance the Kingdom of God, creating positive social, and spiritual, and financial returns.

Having made money in business and capped their own personal net worth so they can give more away, these families are seeking the most powerful ways to make a difference.

Serving these families has allowed us the privilege of investing in Christian entrepreneurs who are building apps to bring spoken prayer to our iPhones, who are creating and disseminating a better mosquito repellent to stop the spread of malaria, and who have established a hardware store that honors God and provides opportunities to share the gospel. In fact, in our first 18 months, we invested more than $30 million USD in about 40 ventures around the world.

Some of these businesses are among the most effective mission agencies I’ve seen. And they also happen to be very profitable.

 

Steps: Encouraging impact investing in Christian circles

How can we encourage these kinds of investments?

  1. Welcome business guys to the table when we’re discussing poverty alleviation. If you are a business leader, take your place at that table!
  2. Think differently about how to deploy charitable capital.
  3. Pray that God equips the next generation. The rising group of investors are grabbing hold of these ideas, and are growing up with an innate sense of the power of corporations to shape society. Pray that they’re rooted deeply in Scripture and that they enter the world with mentors who can help them navigate spreadsheets and the Scriptures.

 

About Aimee.

Aimee Minnich serves as Chief Impact Officer and General Counsel of Impact Foundation. Prior to founding Impact Foundation, she served as President and General Counsel for the National Christian Foundation, Heartland, where she designed and implemented the foundation’s Missional Investing Program to allow the investment of donor-advised funds in social impact companies. A recovering attorney, Aimee earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Kansas School of Law with honors and a BA in Philosophy, summa cum laude, from Rockhurst University. In addition to “The Profitable Charity,” she’s published a boring law article and a study of the metaphysics of salvation. Aimee and her husband Marshall live with their three adorable and high-energy kids and sweet old dog in Kansas city. Aimee loves serving on the boards of two local nonprofits that seek to make the city an even better place.

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