Brace for Impact (Investing)
Committed to Making a Difference
In 2021, the United Church of Canada Foundation committed to investing for positive social and environmental impact. Called “Impact investing”, it provides capital to address urgent challenges in our society. The Foundation has always incorporated church values into its investment portfolio; impact investing marks a shift in carrying out our work. Now the assets entrusted to us by generous United Church people are making positive contributions around the world, in addition to having our grants support essential and innovative ministries across the country. This, then, aligns our investment strategy closely with our granting ideology, and underscores our commitment to ethical stewardship.
More than Financial Return
The Foundation’s investments now have more than just a financial return. Impact investing offers us another way to interpret investment “success”. It’s exciting to be part of this growing movement, challenging the long-held views that social and environmental issues should (or can!) only be addressed through donations, and that investments should focus exclusively on achieving financial returns. Additionally, impact investing brings the Foundation’s priorities to the forefront, as we support Indigenous businesses and projects, “green”-focused businesses, and initiatives working towards economic justice for BIPOC and newcomer communities.
We’re now joyfully monitoring our initial allocation ($5 million), including investments through our investment partner Genus in Windmill Microlending, Ilu Impact Bonds, and Active Impact.
Windmill offers microloans to help skilled immigrants and refugees traverse labour market barriers to continue their careers in Canada. These loans have a big impact on their clients, significantly increasing their incomes and their likelihood of remaining employed.
Shannon Townsend, Associate Director of Corporate Partnerships, explains that Windmill microloans are powering Canada’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. “Now, more than ever, Windmill clients are the physicians, nurses, epidemiologists and pharmacists who will fill essential roles in recovery. They are also the IT professionals, financial analysts and truck drivers who are keeping our economy moving,” she says. “By enabling new Canadians to regain their professional stature, [you] will help to create a more prosperous and inclusive Canada.”
The Foundation is proud to support this creative and important endeavor through a 5-year community bond investment. Our investment is empowering skilled newcomers to escape poverty, build financial literacy, and solve labour-market shortages. Windmill microloans are complemented by supports from a Windmill client success coach. Clients from 157 countries of origin (top 4: India, Nigeria, Philippines, Iran) have received support from nearly 9,000 approved loans. Common intended occupations include those in the healthcare sector, natural and applied sciences and education/government.
We’re looking forward to strengthening our relationship with Windmill Microlending and deepening our understanding of the challenges they are tackling.
Here We Grow!
The United Church of Canada Foundation is excited to continue to grow our impact investing portfolio. Watch our communications for features on our other impact investments, updates to the portfolio and more. We welcome your feedback and questions about impact investing any time, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to chat!