Unlocking an Ecosystem of Pacific Northwest Investing

In a rainforest, shafts of sunlight pierce through the topmost layer, illuminating the darkness below and sparking new growth. Seattle-based Canopy borrows its name from this notion of spotlighting new growth, focusing on regional investment.

Canopy’s goals are simple: to strengthen communities by identifying opportunities for diverse stakeholders — nonprofit institutions, for-profit organizations and individuals — to put capital to work locally in innovative ways that benefit investors and the places we call home.

Canopy addresses:

— A lack of information among decision makers (by making research and information available in a centralized hub)

— A lack of sophistication among investors and investees (by addressing both the supply and demand side)

— A lack of incentive for investment consultants to participate (by creating a new model with different investment criteria and new frameworks to assess performance)

Canopy’s innovative investment research, training and management nurtures local and regional funders to join together and plant their capital right here in the Pacific Northwest. Doing so plants communities in a more fertile, regional economic ecosystem.

“Canopy democratizes the investment field by broadening participation and welcoming collaboration, so capital can flow to where it’s needed most in our communities,” says Lauren Sato, chief operating officer of Canopy.

Founded in 2103 by the Russell Family Foundation of Gig Harbor, Wash., The Laird Norton Family Foundation of Seattle, and Meyer Memorial Trust, Canopy aims serve a diverse mix of private foundations, government entities, corporations, individuals and other stakeholders. Along with seeding the enterprise, Canopy’s founders share the expense of sophisticated institutional research, provided by a partnership of Canopy, the Threshold Group and the University of Oregon. Without this otherwise cost-prohibitive research — accessible to all members — smaller foundations and other investor likely would opt for traditional, global investments in diversified markets. But with Canopy, they have the unique opportunity to invest their assets right in their home communities. And the founders oversee the company and prioritize its operations to ferret out funding organizations and regional investment opportunities, such as local businesses with positive social/environmental impact and significant investor return.

As a capacity-building organization, Canopy also trains investment-fund managers in how to find, manage and best utilize greater amounts of capital, ensuring long-term regional investments that withstand the rigor of institutional due diligence and attract new sources of capital. Together, funders decide just where to invest the wealth. When Canopy’s members pool their knowledge and financial resources, they leverage their efforts to financially invest even more in their communities, more than they ever could alone.

It’s a lot like that rainforest.

It could never exist without a myriad of trees anymore than Canopy’s members could generate regional prosperity without collaborating. Together, they’re transforming how funding institutions and individuals put their capital to work. Just as the forest makes room for new growth, Canopy is opening the way for a new generation of investors — ones whose numbers are only increasing — to help their communities thrive.

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