FAQs and Resources

We often get questions about our work, our investing and grantmaking strategies, and our vision for philanthropy. We’ve compiled some of those questions here, along with resources if you’re interested in learning about our partners in the field and the communities in which we operate. 

FAQS

General Inquiries:

I just found out about Heron, and I want to know more about the work you do! Where can I go?

We’re happy to hear you’re interested. And, you’re already in the right place here at our website. Here are some pages to get you started: About Us, Portfolio of Work, Investments List, Heron Blog

You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

I want to talk to someone from Heron about (insert topic). How do I get in touch?

You are welcome to email info@heron.org. Please note, however, that, given our small team, we unfortunately receive more requests for information and individual guidance than we can respond to. Please understand that this is in no way a reflection of your work; we simply receive many more requests than we can address.

I’m a member of the press and I want to interview someone for content that I’m producing. Where do I go?

You can email Jasmine McGhee at jasmine@heron.org. Please note that Heron generally limits our press engagements to opportunities relevant to our strategy and current activities.

My organization is hosting a conference/webinar this year, and we’re looking for a member of the Heron team to participate as a speaker. Who do I talk to?

For conference-related inquiries, you can email info@heron.org. Please note that we are a small team with limited capacity for events, and therefore tend to restrict our conference attendance and speaking engagements to mission-specific opportunities.

Jobs and Internships:

I would like to send my resume to the Heron team. Where should I direct it?

Thanks for the interest. We post all open positions here.  If there is an open position, you can submit your resume directly through our online portal.

Does Heron offer internship opportunities?

Heron offers internship opportunities occasionally, based on office capacity and need. Careers and internships are posted here.

Heron’s Grantmaking Strategy:

What does Heron fund?

There is no prescriptive list of projects that we are willing to fund. Heron’s method of investing is not confined to any one program area (i.e., education, health, arts, etc.), legal form of organization (i.e., nonprofit, for-profit, cooperative, individual, partnership, etc.) or financial tool (i.e., grant, loan, private equity investment, coop shares, etc.). We are open to all opportunities and try to be responsive to the needs of the communities in which we operate.

How do you pick where you fund?

We like to say that the place picks us, and not the other way around. We do not have strict criteria for choosing and engaging with communities. We tend to operate in communities that demonstrate agency and a dense network, so we know that members are already thinking about solutions and forming key partnerships. Ideally, we do not want to be the only funder operating in a given place, because that can create a cycle of funder dependency.

So, just to be clear, Heron doesn’t have specific program areas?

We decided a few years ago to deviate from traditional program areas because they felt too static and structured to accommodate rapid changes that we saw in the market. Instead, we developed workstreams, which are organized by the questions that we’re asking and the communities with whom we’re engaging. For us, workstreams are more fluid than traditional program areas because we identify them based on market opportunities rather than predetermined subjects.

Do you give money outside the United States?

Heron is a small foundation, and we were founded with a lens on domestic poverty, so we've kept that focus over the years. However, if you are looking for an international funder, we suggest checking out the online directory at Foundation Center.

Aligning Your Portfolio with Your Mission:

How did Heron decide to pursue mission-related investing?

Good question. Our board asked early on if we should be more than a private investment company using its excess cash flow for good — and the answer was a resounding “yes.” Since then, we’ve been on an ongoing journey to pivot our portfolio toward our mission. You can read more about our evolution here.

How did you get your trustees to buy in? 

We were fortunate that this was never our challenge — it was our trustees early on who pushed us toward aligning our portfolio with our mission. However, we know this is can be a tough hurdle for people interested in mission-related investing. Here are some lessons we learned the hard way that might be helpful.

Will you come talk to our trustees?

Getting your trustees involved is sometimes a key step to aligning your portfolio with your mission. While we do occasionally speak to trustee groups, unfortunately, we just don’t have the capacity to meet with everyone’s board. We recommend you check out the resources above.

My community foundation wants to get involved, what do we do?

Awesome! We're happy to hear it and we often find ourselves partnering with local community foundations — particularly when they demonstrate a desire to deploy their assets into a community (rather than simply growing the assets on their own balance sheets).

To start, we recommend checking out the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. They have resources for community foundations, and a cohort that representatives can join. We also recommend checking out the community foundation resources from Mission Investors Exchange.

Heron’s Portfolio:

How big is your endowment?

It’s about $275mm.

What was your investment return last year?

Increasingly, we think this is the wrong question to ask — the point of Heron’s resources is to pursue the mission, not to make more money with money. That being said, we often receive this question from other foundations who are worried that aligning their portfolios with their values will require taking concessionary returns. So, in the spirit of transparency, we keep an updated chart of our investments over time.

Who's your RIA?

Our current RIA is Cambridge Associates

I’m curious about what’s in your portfolio. Can I request that information?

In the interest of transparency, we publish our Investments List online and update it quarterly. You can check it out here.

Resources (some among many)

Impacting Investing Expertise & Networks:
  • Confluence Philanthropy: Confluence Philanthropy advances mission aligned investing. It supports and catalyzes a community of private, public and community foundations, individual donors, and their values-aligned investment advisors representing more than $70 billion in philanthropic assets under management, and over $3.5 trillion in managed capital.
     
  • The GIIN: The Global Impact Investing Network is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the scale and effectiveness of impact investing around the world. Impact investments are investments made with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.
     
  • High Water Women: Founded in 2005 and incorporated as a 501 (c)(3) by a small group of senior women from the hedge fund and investment communities, High Water Women has grown to engage women throughout the financial services sector in volunteerism and philanthropic giving.
     
  • MIE: Mission Investors Exchange is the leading impact investing network for foundations dedicated to deploying capital for social and environmental change. With over 200 members, we provide resources, inspiration, and connections to help our members increase the scale and impact of their impact investing practice. Members come to Mission Investors Exchange and each other for best practices, new investment opportunities, deal partnerships, and innovations in impact investing around the world.
     
  • RSF Social Finance: RSF Social Finance seeks to revolutionize how people relate to money. We’re a financial services organization that has formed a growing community of motivated, values-driven investors, donors and entrepreneurs. Together, we believe that direct, transparent and personal relationships are essential to healing the economy, one that is based on generosity and interconnectedness.
Corporate Partners:
  • CECP: Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose (CECP) is a CEO-led coalition that believes that a company’s social strategy — how it engages with key stakeholders including employees, communities, investors, and customers —determines company success.
     
  • League of Intrapreneurs: We are a global learning community of intrapreneurs and catalysts driving change from within. Our members are prototyping the future of work, cultivating cultures that are more authentic, innovative, collaborative, and ultimately, more meaningful.
Community Cohorts:
  • BALLE: The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, BALLE represents thousands of communities and conveners, entrepreneurs, investors and funders who are defying business as usual.
Nonprofit Information:
  • GuideStar: Each year, millions of people use GuideStar information to make decisions about nonprofits and the work they do. Donors explore charities and issues they want to support. Nonprofit leaders benchmark their organizations against their peers. Funders research grantees. We strive to provide the highest-quality, most complete nonprofit information available.
Foundation Information:
  • Council on Foundations: An active philanthropic network, the Council on Foundations, founded in 1949, is a nonprofit leadership association of grantmaking foundations and corporations. It provides the opportunity, leadership, and tools needed by philanthropic organizations to expand, enhance and sustain their ability to advance the common good.
     
  • Foundation Center: Established in 1956, Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. Through data, analysis, and training, it connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to succeed.
     
  • GrantAdvisor: GrantAdvisor is a web service that facilitates open dialogue between nonprofits and grantmakers by collecting authentic, real-time reviews and comments on grantseekers’ experiences working with funders to encourage more productive philanthropy. GrantAdvisor will launch simultaneously in California and Minnesota in June 2017, with new locations and partnerships to be announced in 2018.
     
  • Philanthropy New York: Since 1979, Philanthropy New York has worked to enhance the ability of philanthropic organizations and individual donors in the New York region to serve the public good.