An MRI is an investment made from a tax-exempt foundation’s endowment that is meant to make money and further the foundation’s charitable goals by doing something good for society or the environment. In the past, a foundation’s investing side, which was usually focused on making the most money possible with the least amount of risk, sometimes clashed with its charitable giving side (e.g. a foundation promoting public health holding tobacco or coal mining stocks).
With MRIs, a foundation can put money into impact investments and still be considered by the IRS to be using “ordinary business care and prudence,” even if the expected rate of return is lower than what it could earn on an investment that is not mission-focused. MRIs are related to “Program Related Investments” (see “PRI” below), but they are not the same thing.