Clara Miller is the founder and CEO of the Nonprofit Finance Fund. She has written extensively on how and why the nonprofit sector is undercapitalized. Clara is one of the most articulate advocates for philanthropy to provide growth capital to nonprofits. It was while he was at Clara’s Nonprofit Finance Fund that George Overholser published his seminal paper Building is Not Buying about the difference between funders paying nonprofits for program execution vs. investing in the nonprofit organizations themselves. The two of them have been important intellectual influences on my own thinking about philanthropy.
Under the direction of their VP of Investments, Luther Ragin, the FB Heron Foundation has invested 35% of its $240 million endowment in market rate impact investments and deployed another 8% in program related investments. To the best of my knowledge, no other foundation of their size has an impact investment allocation approaching the level of F.B. Heron’s commitment.
While F.B. Heron does not rank as one of the largest foundations, it is large enough to act as a model for its bigger peers. With Clara Miller leading the foundation and Luther Ragin overseeing impact investments, the foundation just became one of the most important foundations to watch.