Case #1370.0

Issues in Assessing the Impact of Social Investment: The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (A)

Publication Date: January 01, 1997
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In the early 1980s, The Ford Foundation, among other funders, help create a new type of organization designed to finance the renewal of older, inner city neighborhoods, both through housing renovation and other investments. The Local Initiatives Support Corporation will not undertake projects itself but, instead, will serve as a sort of bank, choosing among proposals submitted by nonprofit development entities. But LISC was by no means making no-strings-attached grants. Instead, it wanted to assure itself -- and those providing its capital -- that it was getting a return on its investment. When a team of consultants is called in to measure LISC's return on investment, it must first consider how such a return might even be defined. Should LISC consider only financial data as regards the repayment of the loans it makes? Or should it consider the catalyzing effects of the organizations it supports on their surrounding neighborhoods? How or should such effects be measured?

Learning Objective:
The case provides a vehicle for discussing the assessment process in instances of so-called social investment, as well as allowing for discussion of the policy goals of what has become one of the most prominent funders of nonprofit urban renovation projects in the US.

Other Details

Case Author:
Alexander Von Hoffman
Faculty Lead:
Peter Zimmerman and Mark Moore
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States