Operating Principles

Our Operating Principles help us translate our Purpose and Values into concrete actions. They answer the question, “How do we prioritize our activities as an organization?”

To read our Purpose and Values statements, click here.

Operating Principles



We are committed to working with those who seek to transform their relationship to money and with those who seek to redefine the core assumptions of our economic and financial systems. We strive to lead by example.


We co-create RSF Social Finance by engaging with our stakeholders: staff, board, investors, donors, borrowers, grantees, asset managers, partners, and friends. Through listening, we try to discern what is being called for next in a spirit of service. Long-term relationships are of primary importance. We place high value on intention.


Building trust begins with transparency. We set expectations with clients as clearly as possible. We are open in reporting our results. We take the time to be honest with fellow staff and board members, including difficult conversations when appropriate.


We have a bias for action. We are steadily developing an entrepreneurial culture based on the primacy of innovation.  We will remain lean and agile; continuous improvement is our objective.

Social Enterprise

We define a social enterprise as a business or corporation in which the economic activity is a means toward generating significant positive benefit for society and the earth. We provide catalytic funding to truly pioneering individuals and organizations—those who strive to achieve deep social impact in every aspect of what they do and who may be significantly ahead of their time.  

Field Building

We are committed to building the field of social finance through collaboration and “open source” practices—whether it is sharing our people, products, or our business model itself. We are a hub and trust holder in the broader network of individuals and social finance organizations, and we believe this network of formal and informal partners will have far greater positive impact than we could on our own.

Financial Performance

As a non-profit tax-exempt public benefit corporation, we strive to balance strong financial performance, organizational effectiveness and social transformation. We will continue our long track record of providing consistent, positive returns to our loan fund investors. Regarding our operating budget, we recognize both the motivational importance of earned income and the essential purpose of gift in making our transformative activities possible.

Risk Management

We are committed to the best practices of conventional risk mitigation, while understanding that new ways of thinking about and practicing risk management and fiduciary responsibility are an essential part of our mission. We consider financial risk along with the broader concern of risks to people, place, and environment. We run a disciplined operation, with extraordinary attention to detail in all matters of financial stewardship. We do not securitize loans or use unnecessary leverage. Our organization and governance are designed for flexibility, responsiveness, and accountability.

Associative Economic Practices

We encourage all parties in financial transactions to be awake to the needs of the others involved as a counter-balance to self-interest. Further, where possible and appropriate, we make decisions in this participatory framework. We are committed to developing and implementing an integrated view of investing, lending and giving and strive to apply these basic principles of associative economics as first articulated by Rudolf Steiner.

Place-Based Economies

Wherever possible, we support direct-investment vehicles and other means of exchange designed to match investors from a particular region with community-based enterprises in that same region. We know that people develop a sense of shared responsibility when spending time face-to-face on a regular basis in an effort to care for each other and the places where they live. We view the power of place as essential to a thriving economy.


We recognize that each individual brings her or his gifts, experiences and aspirations to the organization, whether as a staff member, client, or from the field of social finance. We recognize this diversity as a strength and contributor to our evolving culture. We are also motivated to cultivate diversity (racial, ethnic, class, gender, age, sexual orientation, geographic, etc.) based on a belief that this multiplicity of perspectives and active participation is essential to transforming the financial system. Rather than adhering to this principle by policy or requirement, we seek it in all of our activities.


We ask hard questions. What does it mean “to transform the way the world works with money”? How exactly are we “inspired by the work of Rudolf Steiner” on a day-to-day basis? Why is it so important to inquire into the different qualities of money—purchase, loan, and gift? How do we determine to what degree we are being effective? Research and reflection are critical tools of inquiry and are thus an important part of our organizational learning. Our value proposition is creating a unique community for all our stakeholders to share and to learn from each other.

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