Last month, we shone a bright spotlight on Impetus-PEF, a London-based foundation that is doing a great job of investing in the performance of its grantees. The Impetus-PEF story is so rich with insights that we want to put more meat on the bones here.
Impetus-PEF, the product of a 2013 merger of two like-minded foundations, has learned that being serious about impact means investing serious money in its own capacity. CEO Andy Ratcliffe has structured his investment team to give each member the time to work in close partnership with grantees. Each of the foundation’s six investment directors manages just two or three grantee relationships at a time, far fewer than the typical foundation officer.
Since 2013, the investment team has screened more than 2,000 charities, spoken with the leaders of hundreds, and invested in only 18 of them. Once Impetus-PEF selects a grantee, the investment team provides highly engaged support to the CEO and senior management team of the grantee. Impetus-PEF’s investment directors, who are the lead relationship managers with grantees, spend more than 200 hours a year attending board meetings, coaching executives on change management, helping them build the organization’s leadership capacity, and helping guide evaluation planning. “I’m really confident that to help transform their impact you need … to see problems that any small organization is facing not from outsider’s perspective,” says Ratcliffe. “You need to be a trusted insider.”