I had the pleasure of participating on a panel at the Philanthropic Foundations of Canada conference in October. The panel was called Social Finance: From Theory to Practice and, as I prepared for the panel, it struck me just how much the nonprofit sector has changed in the years I’ve been involved in it.

Even five years ago, a discussion about alternative financing for the sector would not likely have made it to the agenda. This time, the room was filled with foundations and other organizations looking to find out more. While it’s clear that there isn’t a “one size fits all solution” and loans such as those offered by CFF aren’t for everyone, there is a greater interest on the part of the sector (both funders and charities) to look for some additional financing tools. And foundations are considering how they might use some of their endowments to further their missions by participating in alternative financing investments. There were great questions and many things to think about. I hope the questions and discussions will keep coming. It is essential we share as much information as possible and we are always happy to contribute what we have learned (and continue to learn) as CFF grows.

Loans will never take the place of grants and certainly alternative financing investments are just one piece of the investment puzzle for foundations. But it’s great to see organizations willing to explore options for their grantees.