The money we lend comes to us as investments from hundreds of socially responsible individuals and families, faith-based groups, foundations and other nonprofits, corporations and community banks and local, state and federal governments.
VCLF investors want to align their investment dollars with their values, to generate positive community impacts alongside a financial return. VCLF's investors want their money to do more.
From time to time we reach out to our investors to get a sense of their concerns and priorities, their ideals and ideas. We surveyed them again last fall, and we learned a lot from the responses.
The major (and perhaps least surprising!) finding was that folks invest in the Loan Fund not because of what we can do for them, but because of what we can do with their investment. One-hundred percent of the respondents listed the social impact their investment has in their communities as one of their top two reasons for investing. Our investors’ other primary reason for putting their capital with us was the opportunity to invest in businesses, projects, communities and people in Vermont, an idea that’s become increasingly important to VCLF investors in recent years. We’ve recently launched a couple of focused loan programs (the Next Generation Fund in 2014, the Food, Farms & Forests Fund in 2015 and the SPROUT program last year) and a significant and increasing percentage of investors tell us they value the opportunity to dedicate their investment to specific program areas.
Perhaps not surprisingly, VCLF investors are guided by their values beyond their VCLF investments; approximately 70% have other socially responsible investments, and the percentage of their overall portfolios invested in SRIs is growing.
Again, not surprisingly, the vast majority of VCLF investors use philanthropy as a tool to do more with their money as well. They make regular gifts to nonprofits and causes close to home, nationally and around the world. More and more VCLF investors are including the Loan Fund in their philanthropy, for which we’re incredibly grateful!
The other significant survey finding was that folks are learning about the Loan Fund from a variety of sources. In past surveys, most investors reported that they’d first learned about us from VCLF staff or Board members…but that’s changing. Today, investors are most likely to hear about us from other VCLF investors or donors, from their financial advisor or lawyer, or from other media including press releases, radio ads or at one of the many community events and conferences that VCLF sponsors throughout the year.
We’re so grateful for our investors. Their commitment to doing more with their money makes our work possible. We appreciate their honesty, their ideas and the part they play in creating opportunities for all Vermonters.