Despite the market turmoil, there is still over $500 billion in the endowments of US private foundations. In a time of constrained finances, it is important for foundations to leverage resources to achieve what they want to do rather than relying on grantmaking alone. Mission-related investing (MRI) is one way of doing this. This was the focus of a symposium organized by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors in New York last November.
The Symposium, entitled ‘The New New Economy: Investing with a Climate Change Lens during Challenging Times’, examined the principles of MRI and its implications for climate change, as well as providing practical tools for implementation. It drew 400 participants from among foundation trustees, senior philanthropic leaders and investment executives.
The keynote speakers were Al Gore and David Blood of Generation Investment Management and Van Jones of Green For All. Jones stressed that foundations could and should use the full range of their assets to address climate change, while Gore urged endowment managers to increase their investments in companies that focus on conserving energy and developing renewable sources of energy.
A number of steps were identified by participants, including: the pursuit of investments that at least consider climate change; searching for more investments related to energy use reduction; screening current investments with more due diligence; expanding the use of PRIs; and monitoring the ‘green’ equity market. Eighty-five per cent of participants said they were more likely to use more of their assets to address climate change after the event, while 68 per cent said they were interested in joining a group to address these issues.
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