As you probably know, Sally Gambrell is the foundation’s President and the only child of the foundation’s founder, Sarah Belk Gambrell. In January 2018, Sally introduced the idea of impact investing to me by plopping The ImpactAssets Handbook for Investors by Jed Emerson on my desk with the directive to “figure it out.” Sally first learned about the concept of impact investing when she attended Southeastern Council of Foundation’s 2016 annual meeting. Combining my professional experience in traditional portfolio management with Sally’s out of the box thinking and creative vision for the future, we embarked on the journey of restructuring the foundation’s investment portfolio.

After making the strategic decision to incorporate some form of “impact investments” into the foundation’s portfolio, I began conducting exploratory research to familiarize myself with the existing landscape. I quickly learned that a lack of standardization exists within this nascent investment strategy resulting in a disconnect and confusion when comparing varying resources. For now, I will set this issue aside and focus on the initial steps we took when embarking on our journey as well as share some helpful resources with those of you who would like to forge a similar path.

To begin, I studied the websites of experienced impact investors. Personally, I found the below foundations to be the most informative in sharing their unique views and experiences.

Next, I called the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation and Phillips Foundation provided our shared geographical mission focus. I gained deeper insight and answers to specific questions by interacting directly with the experienced and forthcoming leaders at these two organizations. Upon comparing my notes, I noticed one glaring similarity – both organizations highly recommended we join the Mission Investors Exchange (MIE), which provides tools and resources, motivation and association to enhance the impact investing practice of its 200+ members. We joined MIE ( in 2018 and it has been an unparalleled resource for us. More to come on my utilization of MIE’s resources and guidance in a future article. 

Ultimately, I read all relevant materials that I could get my hands on, including books, white papers, investment policy statements, articles, etc. I also connected in-person, over the phone or via email with anyone who was willing to share their impact investing philosophy and best practices with me. I spent the past couple of years learning everything I could, and I continue to learn something new every day as my research delves deeper into an evolving investment strategy.   

Brittany Priester

Brittany Priester

Portfolio Manager