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More and more nonprofits are creating investment opportunities for well-wishers who want to support the charity’s mission while also receiving a modest return on their money.

New Hampshire Community Loan Fund is one I know about. “Investments in the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund are stable, pay interest to the investor and create opportunity many times over in New Hampshire’s communities,” says their website. “The money that people and institutions invest in us, combined with our own capital, creates the pool of funds from which we lend to create opportunity for decent housing, child care and jobs for families with low or moderate incomes.

“Our borrowers are people and nonprofit organizations that won’t qualify for a bank loan, but that are responsible and motivated to achieve their goals, including repayment. We connect them with the specialized training and support they need to be successful.”

The website also notes that the Community Loan Fund “received the highest honor in our field: the NEXT Award for Opportunity Finance. We were selected from among the country’s top community development financial institutions for providing fair, fixed-rate mortgage loans to help people in New Hampshire’s resident-owned communities build value in their home.” (Resident-owned communities are parks for manufactured housing at which the residents own not just the home but also share ownership of the land. They are a specialty of the Loan Fund.)

At The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Holly Hall writes about how the Nature Conservancy is using the concept of an investment vehicle for supporters.

Hall writes, “Project manager Jeff DeQuatro walks on a protective reef built by the Nature Conservancy off Coffee Island, Alabama. The environmental group has started Conservation Note, an investment program that returns the principal and interest of up to 2 percent to the charity’s supporters.

“Since April 2012, the Nature Conservancy has secured more than $16 million with the Conservation Note, a new investment program that will return an interest rate of up to 2 percent to the charity’s supporters. Under the arrangement, supporters who provide at least $25,000 to the Nature Conservancy to invest for a term of one, three, or five years will earn 0 to 2 percent in interest and get all their money back. The Conservation Note has been given a double-A rating by Moody’s.

“The Nature Conservancy will use the money from supporters to help it shoulder the costs involved in transferring a protected piece of land.

“For instance, the Nature Conservancy recently purchased a Colorado ranch on sensitive land and obtained a conservation easement that prohibits the land from being developed, thereby lowering its value. The lower price made it possible for five families with adjacent ranches each to buy a portion of the property back from the Nature Conservancy. The buyers all agreed not to develop the land.

“Money from the Conservation Notes helped the charity make up the costs involved in selling the land and getting the easement.

“ ‘What is so exciting is that it opens up a whole new avenue of supporting conservation with resources aside from philanthropy,’ says Charlotte Kaiser, who manages the program.” More on how it works.

Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters/File
Project manager Jeff DeQuatro walks on a protective reef built by the Nature Conservancy off Coffee Island, Alabama. The environmental group has started Conservation Note, an investment program that returns the principal and interest of up to 2 percent to the charity’s supporters.

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