Charity foundations back RI investment mission

Cambridge Associates launches first dedicated advisory service in the area.

The growing trend amongst US charitable foundations to invest money in capital markets alongside their traditional donor campaigns – known as mission investing – is increasingly attracting the attention of consultants and fund managers in the SRI field.
One movement is the “2% for Mission Campaign”, launched by a group of foundations to encourage peers to place at least two percent of assets in mission-related investment products. Assets are being allocated to sectors such as venture capital, clean tech and buyout funds. Supporting organisations include the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which helps vulnerable children and families, the F.B. Heron Foundation, which works in low-income communities and the Meyer Memorial Trust Foundation, a community foundation, focused on Oregon and Southwest Washington.
Cambridge Associates, the US consultant has become one of the first advisers to launch a dedicated unit to the area with the creation of the Mission Investing Group, which will work in partnership with the promoters of “2% for Mission”. Cambridge said the group would identify key players in the mission-related investing universe and construct a database of relevant fund managers. It will also define best practices for institutions regarding implementation of mission-based investment programmes. The group will be headed by Kevin Stephenson, managing director at Cambridge Associates.Burt Sonenstein, vice president and chief investment officer of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said: “The Casey Foundation has allocated $100m (€67m) or three percent of assets, to mission-related investments and will extensively draw upon the Mission Investing Group to expand our portfolio. Cambridge Associates brings knowledge and expertise that allows Casey and other foundations to supplement internal investment expertise in a cost-efficient way. I’m delighted that the outstanding capabilities and resources of the Mission Investing Group will now be available to the Casey Foundation and to chief investment officers and investment committees in all foundations and other endowed institutions.”
Sharon King, president of the New York-based F.B. Heron Foundation, said: “Harnessing the power of the capital markets for positive social and environmental impact is essential. It is appropriate that tax-advantaged institutions, such as foundations and endowments, begin to invest for mission in a thoughtful and rigorous way.”
SRI fund managers are increasingly viewing charitable foundations as a growing market, particularly in the US, in which to sell their expertise. Karina Litvack, head of governance and SRI at F&C Asset Management in London, said: “We are seeing a good deal of assets coming from the foundation and philanthropic sector, particularly in the United States, but we expect this to grow in Europe also.”