Our Work / Initiatives / Innovative Finance

Innovative Finance

Shaping the next generation of financing solutions to unlock private capital for social good.


Global philanthropic funds, even when combined with the development or aid budgets of governments, add up into the mere billions of dollars. Meanwhile, the cost of solving the world’s most critical problems runs into the trillions.

To unlock more capital to solve these challenges, for the last eight years The Rockefeller Foundation has worked to develop the next generation of products, partnerships, and institutions that catalyze private sector investment for resilience and inclusive economies.

A Pioneering Legacy: Impact Investing & Social Impact Bonds

In 2007, the term “impact investing” was coined at The Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, putting a name to investments made with the intention of generating both financial return and social and/or environmental impact.

Since then, The Rockefeller Foundation has worked to build the infrastructure for the impact investing field to take hold. Among our work, we:

  • Incubated the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) to increase the scale and effectiveness of impact investing.
  • Supported B Lab to develop a rapidly-growing community of B corporations, companies that wish to benefit society as well as their shareholders.
  • Established reporting and performance standards to measure social and environmental impact, including the Impact Reporting and Investment Standards and GIIRS analytics.
  • Pioneered social impact bonds (SIBs), like ‘pay-for-success’ projects, aimed at helping state and local governments fund critical social programs through a combination of government initiation, private investment, and non-profit implementation.

Current Portfolio

The Rockefeller Foundation’s current innovative finance portfolio is focused on developing new financing solutions to mobilize large pools of private capital from new sources to address the world’s most critical problems. Among our work, we have supported a set of key initiatives in infrastructure and insurance.

Recent highlights include:

  • Created a first-of-a-kind project development facility to support private-sector led infrastructure projects that build resilience across emerging markets in partnership with the International Finance Corporation.
  • Provided seed funding for a multi-donor trust fund to support the World Bank’s City Creditworthiness Initiative to improve developing country cities’ access to funding for low-carbon and resilient infrastructure.
  • Supported the creation of Africa Risk Capacity, a specialized agency of the African Union designed to assist member states to resist and recover from the ravages of natural disasters through a groundbreaking index-based weather insurance mechanism.

Program-Related Investments

The Rockefeller Foundation was one of the first foundations to make program-related investments (PRIs) in the 1990s. Similar to a grant, a PRI is a tool we use to help achieve our programmatic objectives. Unlike grants, however, this type of investment allows us to recycle its capital. PRIs are a powerful tool to complement grant-making in reaching our program goals. They bring private sector discipline and efficiency to social ventures, often enabling recipient organizations to attract scale-up capital from commercial sources.

The promise of impact investing - @RockefellerFdn in the European Financial Review http://t.co/3yta9jVAI1 http://t.co/9HZb3ridC0

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