Philanthropy Beyond Grantmaking

A new Minnesota nonprofit, the Venn Foundation, is offering a streamlined approach to using an underutilized tool in philanthropists’ tool kits. Venn aims to provide philanthropic organizations and foundation with the outside expertise and legal structure that will allow them to make more loans. Specifically, Venn will focus on facilitating program-related investments (PRIs): below-market-rate loans that can provide flexible working capital for a range of causes. 

By specializing in PRIs, Venn will seek money from foundations, corporations and individuals who specifically want their money to circulate in the sector through PRIs. Venn will provide up-front due diligence, monitoring, coaching and any other hands-on assistance that borrowers may need. Further, Venn has built in the flexibility to make loans not only to nonprofits but also to mission-driven businesses that need “slow capital” to do their work.

In March, Venn released The PRI Pulse, a comprehensive report documenting Minnesota foundations’ use of PRIs from 1998 to 2016. The PRI Pulse contains a rich analysis of subjects beyond PRIs, such as documenting the growth in the number of private foundations in Minnesota and analyzing the charitable administrative expense for these foundations over time. The hope is that The PRI Pulse can help further demystify the process and encourage more exploration and experimentation with the tool.

Read more about Venn and The PRI Pulse in Sarah’s article in Twin Cities Business.