Andrew Milner’s piece ‘What happens to the rest of it? How foundations make investments’ does a very good job of identifying how foundations evolve their thinking about how they can change the world for the better.
At Veris Wealth Partners, we’ve been working with foundations over the past 10 years and during that time, we’ve seen a profound shift in their approach and practice.
Initially, many foundations with a social mission were focused on screening out companies that had a negative impact on individuals, society or the environment. They declined to invest in fossil fuels, cigarette companies, prisons or other companies perceived to have a detrimental effect on the planet.
Those with such holdings divested, and in the process, made a very strong statement.
Today, many of these same foundations are executing a different strategy. Rather than negative screening, they are focused on building the kind of world we want by investing in companies and causes focused on creating positive change.
We now routinely work with foundations investing in climate change solutions, community wealth building, economic development, gender and racial equity, education, and sustainable food systems, among many other areas – all in the spirit of human progress and sustainability.
Foundation investments have a multiplier effect because they not only deploy their own capital, but can also influence wealthy individuals, other foundations, endowments, and private and public organizations to deploy mission-related and impact investing strategies.
Foundations have the potential to have an even greater impact on the future, and we hope they will continue to lead in impact investing and sustainability.
Director Veris Wealth Partners, San Francisco
For other views on this issue see ‘Foundations should not accept compromise’ by James Corah and ‘Investment managers focus on asset gathering above missions’ by Sunny Mann.