CDFI Futures: An Industry at a Crossroads

Written for Opportunity Finance Network

This may be the most important paper you’ll read this year—and in years to come.

Every disruptive industry eventually faces a milestone moment that can pivot it to new levels and greater impact. Today, the CDFI industry is at such a crossroads. How it pivots is up to all of us.

For more than 30 years CDFIs have helped to rebuild American communities, weathering a proof of concept period in the 1970s and 1980s and a steady growth period that started in the 1990s and continues today. But what about tomorrow?

  • Are we ready for the external shifts and challenges that confront the industry?
  • Can we expand our influence using new technologies?
  • How can our high-impact, proven model meet the needs of a new breed of impact investors, socially minded philanthropists—including family offices, endowments, and foundations—looking to solve issues of poverty and social change through community investment?
  • What is the CDFI Capacity Score™ and how could it change the CDFI investing landscape?

Using quantitative and qualitative research, CDFI Futures: An Industry at a Crossroads explores these questions and more, discussing this inflection point for community investment and its future challenges and opportunities. The groundbreaking research was motivated by a view among many practitioners and investors that the CDFI industry is at a critical time of change.