Kate Barr  President & CEO, Propel Nonprofits

Kate Barr
President & CEO,
Propel Nonprofits

Bill King  Former President, Minnesota Council on Foundations

Bill King
Former President,
Minnesota Council on Foundations

We are a couple of data wonks who have held leadership positions in Minnesota’s philanthropic and nonprofit communities over many years. We are pleased to introduce you to this new research on Program-Related Investments (PRIs) called The PRI Pulse.

Minnesota has been well served by a tradition of providing high-quality research on its philanthropic and nonprofit communities through the Giving in Minnesota publications of the Minnesota Council on Foundations and the Nonprofit Economy Reports of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. Our commitment to demystifying these sectors and how they work based on solid research and data has helped to inform practitioners, public policy leaders, and community members alike.

Over the years, research by the Minnesota Council on Foundations has focused primarily on the grant making activities of foundations. Very little information has been gathered or reported on PRIs. The PRI Pulse fills this gap and is a welcome addition to the range of research currently available about Minnesota’s philanthropic and nonprofit sectors.

As the aspirations of our communities have increased and as our grandest social challenges persist, many philanthropic individuals and organizations are exploring new ways of using charitable capital in addition to grants. PRIs are one of many promising tools. As this research shows, while PRIs remain broadly underutilized by Minnesota philanthropy, they are neither new nor unproven. Since 1998, 39 pioneering Minnesota private foundations have invested $164 million through 554 PRIs into a variety of recipients and issue areas.

PRIs hold tremendous potential for advancing charitable goals. As Propel Nonprofits knows from experience, having received the second highest number of PRIs over the research period, nonprofit organizations and those they serve can greatly benefit from below-market investment capital when acquiring property, purchasing equipment, growing programs, and launching social enterprises. Less known, however is that PRIs can be used strategically by philanthropists and nonprofits to engage actors across sectors, such as businesses and governments, and to enlist them as allies in the achievement of charitable goals and broader systems change.

We are pleased to recommend The PRI Pulse for your review and as a catalyst for action. It provides a clear analysis of the scope of PRI-making in Minnesota over a 19-year time frame and spotlights case studies that clearly demonstrate the power of PRIs to have an impact far beyond grants. We encourage readers to use this report to learn more about this philanthropic tool and to consider whether PRIs can be of help in advancing their own charitable goals to the betterment of our entire state.