The Religious Communities Impact Fund (RCIF) was started in 2008 by ten congregations of religious women who wanted their community development investing to continue beyond their years. This collaborative fund is a legacy ministry that invites its members to “put your money on mission.”
The fund invests in nonprofit organizations that serve low-income communities and reflect Gospel values. The fund portfolio is comprised of debt and equity investments which benefit the poor—especially women and children.
Margaret Mary Cosgrove, BVM has been on the member board of the Religious Communities Impact Fund (RCIF) for eight years and has served as Chair of the Board of Directors for the last three years. She was introduced to the impact fund by Vicki Cummings, RCIF Treasurer, through their work together on the board of National Association for Treasurers of Religious Institutes (NATRI).
As Chair, Margaret Mary works among a diverse board, comprised of five Catholic sisters and two lay men, both of whom work in community capital, development, and investment. Margaret Mary loves her work and lights up when discussing the various projects RCIF has funded. She shares, “Many of these projects just need a little seed money to get started . . . once they are complete, they pay the loan back and we are able to reuse the same money over and over again.”
In her tenure, Margaret Mary has seen funds support international projects, U.S. based nonprofits, housing developments, housing loan funds, community development financial institutions, credit unions, banks—and the programs they support. Margaret Mary especially enjoys it when fund recipients share their success stories with her. “It is so nice to hear how the funds have made a difference in their lives,” she says.
Passion and Purpose
Her favorite projects include providing funds to low-income homeowners in Oregon to install solar equipment on their home, to low-income residents to build homes on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and to parents of adult children with disabilities to build a home for their children to live in community. Recipients repay the loans through the tax rebates they receive, private mortgages, and donations.
Margaret Mary has ideas to expand funding opportunities, sharing, “I would like to set up a revolving loan fund in a small city to provide loans to those who are forced to use payday and title lenders who charge very high interest rates, sometimes up to 300% on an annualized basis, causing the under-banked to go deeper and deeper into debt.”
Her thoughtful, “money on mission” strategic leadership style is a gift to RCIF. Sarah Geisler, RCIF Executive Director, states, “Margaret Mary
supports cultural systems change by insisting women are not only program beneficiaries of the nonprofits RCIF invests in, but also that women are part of the leadership and governance of the organizations themselves.”
Sarah says this approach ensures that the lived experience is “at the table” where decisions are made. She believes that Margaret Mary, “facilitates the board’s work to be prophetic and effective in both mission and fiduciary responsibilities.”
Margaret Mary’s contributions and impacts ensure RCIF’s work for years to come. Sarah affirms, “We are grateful for Margaret Mary’s dedication to the mission and operations of RCIF over the last eight years!”
To learn more about RCIF, visit: rcif.org
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