The Community Media Workshop held a panel May 7 on the future of news as a social enterprise and the L3C [low profit limited liability company] model.
The following Monday, I attended the bi-annual conference of the PRI-Makers Network. PRIs are Program Related Investments and they are posed at the center of the L3C model. A PRI is an investment made by a foundation — in various forms — at below market rates. The foundation expects a return on the money – with varying degrees of rigidity. And this investment is “program related” because its is tied to the program areas funded by the foundations. Pretty simple concept!
I will be sharing more of what I learned during those three days in some upcoming posts. Meanwhile, some of my thoughts going in were confirmed: only a small number of foundations are making PRIS. PRIs are only a tiny percent — 1%— of total funding by foundations. As I say in the clip, PRI makers are similar to angels in that they seek and expect a dollar return for their investment.
Their money is, however, patient, [unlike venture capitalists] in that they are asking a below market rate return and will work with the social venture to ensure its success over time. Topmost they are expecting a return in social good for their investment. Foundations are typically working with many partners to make these deals work and there is a lot of haggling at the table over details as in any deal. Foundations themselves are going through a vast culture shift themselves over PRIs and how they fit into philanthropy.
I informally floated the idea of a journalistic operation as a social enterprise by a few PRI-Makers and the idea was met with interest, albeit reserved, as to be expected. More to come