Mission Related Investing with Brad Dickson

Brad Dickson is an active impact investor and Board Chair emeritus for the Community Foundation of Utah (CFU). Brad supports innovation, social entrepreneurship, and technology-based economic development because he is passionate about pushing Utah toward a better future.

Brad brings learned experience from his professional career to guide his philanthropy. “My career in energy services educated me on the consequences of climate change, which has led me to focus on numerous climate actions for my impact investing,” he said. Brad’s desire to protect Utah’s beautiful terrain and exciting outdoor recreational opportunities comes from a life spent in the mountains. “I grew up camping with my family, backpacking in college, and hiking our national parks. All those experiences have made me committed to land conservation and preservation in Utah,” he said.

Brad promotes a long term approach toward system level change as a way to address Utah’s largest problems. “I think we all understand that societal problems cannot be solved overnight. We need to build a foundation that will raise the entire community,” he said. In his time as CFU’s Board Chair, he guided the organization to resolve root causes of social issues. “Working with CFU, we ask ourselves what success really means and ensure all activities drive real outcomes toward that success. We approach challenges with sustainable, replicable, and scalable solutions,” he shared.

In his own philanthropy, Brad provides support for his grantees through operational funding. “It's people that drive outcomes. Nonprofit staff are closest to understanding problems and providing real solutions, so granting organizations unrestricted funding allows them the best chance of doing that,” he said. Brad saw how critical operational funding is for nonprofits during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Having that flexibility of unrestricted funding has been key for many nonprofits to adapt and step up quickly in this time of need,” he said.

Through CFU, Brad uses a Donor-Advised Fund (DAF) to make Mission Related  Investments in inventive organizations. “I am using tax-advantaged dollars to invest in social enterprises that may not otherwise get funding as it's seen as too early or too risky,” he said. Financial return is secondary to the compelling social purpose of Brad’s investments — but if they do provide a financial return to his DAF, Brad reinvests the money into the community. “I believe DAFs used in this manner can facilitate the success of more social entrepreneurs, de-risk their mission, and bring more innovation to society's problems.”

Brad’s leadership was instrumental to CFU’s success in an unprecedented phase of growth. His determination and zeal will continue to catalyze philanthropic capital and uplift transformative change in Utah for years to come.


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