The Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, an organization which connects philanthropists and foundations with non-profits, has launched an impact investment fund focused on Atlanta. The GoATL fund has been initially capitalized with $10 million from the Community Foundation’s unrestricted assets, with the intent to open it up to hundreds of Foundation donors and allow them to do good while seeing a financial return.
Impact investing has been picking up traction around the world as two phenomena propagate: the increase of traditional investors that want their money to go towards a social or environmental cause they care about; and the realization of traditional donors that they can earn an ROI from their donation dollars. Atlanta has not had a fund specifically focused on local impact investing until now.
GoATL’s investments are structured as flexible, cost-effective loans. Once paid back, these dollars will be recycled back into the fund and donors will receive interest.
Mark Crosswell, Community Foundation’s Managing Director of Social Impact Strategy and the GoATL fund, says they hope to deploy the initial $10 million over the next two to three years.
“However, with new future investment capital coming from our donors, the goal is for the fund to perpetuate so we’ll continue to ramp up deployment as the fund grows,” he says. The Community Foundation’s donor base is wide, with approximately $1.1 billion in current assets; they took in over $144 million in 2017.
GoATL’s investments will focus on the same five impact areas as the Community Foundation’s grant programs: the Arts, Community Development, Education, Nonprofit Effectiveness, and Well-being. Crosswell says they will consider both for-profit and non-profit entities for investment, as well as development authorities.
“We’ll evaluate based on the mission served and the sustainability of the business model to serve that mission,” explains Crosswell.
The fund’s first investment, announced today, is a $750,000 capital infusion into Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership (ANDP). The funding will help grow their single-family revitalization programs to expand housing affordability in the city.
“GoATL’s investment in ANDP is timely due to our region’s overwhelming need for increased affordable housing,” says Crosswell. “ANDP’s model not only creates sustainable living opportunities for many Atlantans, but it also allows these working families to become first-time homebuyers and, in turn, build wealth through homeownership.”
The Community Foundation is hoping this fund is just one piece in a larger strategy to inform and expand impact investing across the state. Crosswell and the Community Foundation are also helping lead a group of diverse stakeholders in the Georgia Social Impact Collaborative (GSIC), which seeks to be a catalyst for the industry.
“Our metro area communities have the same social ills that they had 30 and 40 years ago. Though our population has exploded and the economy is booming, disparities continue to grow among income levels and many lack access to quality healthcare, education or opportunity,” says Crosswell. “With public funding on a continual decline and with insufficient philanthropic assets to address all these issues, one of the best hopes is the emergence of impact investing.”