Simply put, Program Related Investments -PRIs -are investments by a charitable foundation at below-market rates to support organizations that are addressing social or community concerns. PRIs often take the form of loans, promissory notes or equity investments. They are like grants in that they support organizations and activities that are in furtherance of the foundation's mission. They are different from grants in that they must be repaid. PRIs offer advantages both to the foundation making the PRI and to the organization that receives capital from the PRI. From the foundation's perspective, PRIs provide a vehicle for deeper, more lasting and more focused investment in a particular issue or a particular place.
Grants tend to be awarded in smaller amounts and for shorter periods of time; consequently, they tend to focus on activities and issues that can be addressed in the short term. Capital made available through a PRI, in contrast, may be lent in much larger amounts over a much longer period of time, allowing recipient organizations to address more complex undertakings.
Some foundations fund PRIs from their grants budgets. The Jessie Ball duPont Fund, however, like many other foundations, is funding its PRIs from its endowment, making the PRI investments a true complement to the foundation's grantmaking, and broadening the potential reach of the Fund's philanthropy.