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.
You are welcome to email email@example.com. 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.
You can email Jasmine McGhee at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that Heron generally limits our press engagements to opportunities relevant to our strategy and current activities.
For conference-related inquiries, you can email email@example.com. 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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
It’s about $275mm.
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.
Our current RIA is Cambridge Associates
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)