The Surdna Foundation’s board of trustees established an $18 million Program Related Investment (PRI) revolving fund which began investing in 2014. The Fund supports the foundation’s mission of fostering just and sustainable communities by providing investment capital to fund innovations that use market-based approaches to address economic, cultural, and environmental challenges. 

A new tool to increase impact

PRIs will increase Surdna’s ability to achieve programmatic results. By using its capital in a different way, the Foundation is able to tackle specific programmatic challenges throughmarket based solutions. Providing funds at below-market rates can be particularly useful when capital is needed to start-up, grow, or sustain a social enterprise, or when results cannot be achieved with grants alone, or can be achieved more effectively with PRIs.

Generating social and financial returns

PRIs, which are typically loans or loan guarantees or other similar loan/ bond-type vehicles, are designed to generate both social and financial returns. Like grants, PRIs are vehicles for making inexpensive capital available to organizations that are addressing social, cultural, or environmental concerns. They can be used for charitable purposes including supporting community development finance institutions (CDFIs), affordable housing developments, energy efficiency programs, sustainable agriculture, cultural organizations, entrepreneurship and micro-businesses in our respective fields. Once repaid, the money can be recycled into new charitable purposes, extending the reach and impact of the foundation’s programs.

Strengthening social ventures / fostering innovation

By using PRIs, Surdna can help social ventures to strengthen their business practices so that they can attract capital from private sector investors seeking market rate returns. The Program allows Surdna to offer debt financing at a critical early stage when investment capital is especially difficult to secure.

Strategy and Guidelines

Innovation: The PRI Program will focus on demonstrating the viability of new innovations, rather than expanding or replicating successful ones.

Intermediaries: The PRI Program will typically work with and through intermediaries, rather than investing in projects directly.

Alignment with Surdna’s Programs: In developing PRI opportunities, the Foundation will follow Surdna’s program strategies.  Any PRI has to be a fit within those program guidelines .   

The Surdna Foundation makes program-related investments by invitation only to for-profit businesses and non-profit organizations for select ventures that are designed to promote the work of one of our three program strategies.



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