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Mobilizing the Entirety of Your Resources for Impact

By: Jennifer Oertel, Member and Council of Michigan Foundations' Impact Investing Expert in Residence


We often focus on the impact of grant dollars. Investments also make an impact, positive or negative – whether or not that impact is intentional. We know that advocacy is another incredibly important opportunity and resource in your toolbox that can be used to create social change.

Let’s examine your other resources that may also have a positive impact:

  1. Technical assistance. Funders tend to have access to professional advisors and in-house talent that can be incredibly useful for nonprofits and other funding recipients. These partners can provide direct assistance, group learning opportunities or publish helpful information and templates. We at CMF see significant needs in the field for resources or support in a variety of areas, including cyber security, impact measurement and management, internal controls, basic legal compliance, governance and efforts to advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
  2. Vendor dollars. As a consumer of goods and services, your organization has the power to influence business practices, especially through thoughtful DEI practices, environmental considerations and more. When selecting major vendors for your organization, you can ask them questions relating to the social issues that align with your values. The Skillman Foundation published a blog in November 2022 sharing the findings of their multi-year racial equity audit tracking every dollar spent, including grantmaking, operations and their endowment.
  3. Convening power. As a philanthropic funder, you have a large measure of influence in and connections within your community. You can use that influence to convene people for community-centered problem-solving and, therefore, community-informed solutions.
  4. In-kind assistance. It can be easy to take for granted the various resources that make work life easier – and that your nonprofit partners may have to do without – such as sophisticated office tools and supplies, communications professionals, web designers and other technical professionals or even ample meeting space. Offering this type of in-kind assistance can be especially helpful in this age of remote and hybrid work environments where these resources may not be as readily available.

Your organization doesn’t need a big budget to make a big difference. If you combine your grantmaking and investing with non-financial forms of impact, your efforts will have a multi-faceted, exponential effect.

Stay tuned for our next blog on the controversy around ESG and impact investing, and highlighting ESG rating tools.

This article was originally published as a blog post on the Council of Michigan Foundations website. You can read the original blog here.

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