Philanthropic institutions have social goals, but our power is financial. If we're serious about social change, then we need to hold our investments to the same social standards that we do our grants.
Instead of investing in destructive industries that generate wealth for only the few, we should be investing in clean alternatives that will benefit the many. Instead of holding our investments to dangerous and unrealistic expectations of endless financial growth, we should prioritize social returns that are truly sustainable.
Our current economy isn't working. Transition is inevitable. But we have the power to help make sure that it is just. We need to divest from the old economy and invest in the transition to a new economy.
The Edwards Mother Earth Foundation (EMEF) is pleased to join the Divest Invest Philanthropy Coalition as an organization dedicated to environmental sustainability, community resiliency, and collaborative philanthropy, with a grant program focus on climate change mitigation. EMEF seeks to deploy capital in ways consistent with its mission and stated grant program areas including the following:
➢ Climate Change: focus efforts to create a healthy and productive environment for current and future generations through efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
➢ Energy Efficiency: focus efforts to promote energy efficiency including effective policy creation and implementation, support for green building, renewable and clean energy initiatives.
The Foundation recognizes that its fiduciary responsibility does not end with maximizing return and minimizing risk; rather the Foundation has an objective to invest its corpus assets in sustainable and impact investments consistent with its mission and values.
"Profit is a reward for important service well-rendered, and not the legitimate purpose of business in its own right. The way to find new opportunities is to discover needs or yearnings of people that are not being satisfactorily met, and imagine solutions. The way to prosper is to do that well…guided by the conviction that whatever ought to be, can be, with the will to make it so”. - James Rouse
100 years after James Rouse’s birth, the Jim and Patty Rouse Charitable Foundation celebrates the Divest-Invest initiative as an expression of this core principal. We support investment strategies based on enterprises and institutions that actually reflect the world we want to live in - whose operations create collateral benefits instead of collateral damages, and which nurture our longing for resilience, creativity, inter-generational security, and community.
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a private charitable foundation established in 1940, has been working to better align its endowed assets with its mission since 2010, when the board of trustees approved a commitment of up to 10 percent of the endowment to investments consistent with the foundation’s sustainable development program goals.
The Fund's initial priorities for investments from this 10 percent pool are focused on support for clean energy technologies and other business strategies that advance energy efficiency, decrease dependence on fossil fuels, and mitigate the effects of climate change. We also seek investment opportunities that align with the Fund’s other program goals in the fields of democratic practice and peacebuilding, and in the Fund’s “pivotal places” – specific geographic areas the Fund considers to be of exceptional regional or global significance. In the coming years, we expect the percentage of mission aligned investments, including those targeted to clean energy development, will grow as we actively seek solid investments that will advance both our program and long term financial goals.
Given the RBF’s deep commitment to combatting climate change, the Fund is now committing* to a two-step process to address its desire to divest from investments in fossil fuels. Our immediate focus will be on coal and tar sands, two of the most intensive sources of carbon emissions. We are working to eliminate the Fund’s exposure to these energy sources as quickly as possible. Given the structure of some commingled investment funds and investments in highly diversified energy companies, we recognize there may continue to be minimal investments in our portfolio in those energy sectors, but we are committed to reducing our exposure to coal and tar sands to less than one percent of the total portfolio by the end of 2014. As we take the steps to divest from coal and tar sands investments, we are also undertaking a comprehensive analysis of our exposure to any remaining fossil fuel investments and will work with the RBF Investment Committee and board of trustees to determine an appropriate strategy for further divestment over the next few years.
In working to align our endowment investments with our mission and programs, we will adhere to the longstanding mandate of our board of trustees that our assets be invested with the goal of achieving financial returns that will enable the foundation to meet its annual philanthropic obligations, while maintaining the purchasing power of the endowment, so that future generations will also benefit from the foundation’s charitable giving. In uncertain and volatile markets, these financial goals are not easy to achieve. Therefore, our divestment from fossil fuels, which is now underway, will be accomplished through a careful process of evaluating our exposure and a phased approach that proceeds as quickly as is prudent.
We hope that the framework the RBF has adopted to guide our divestment and investment strategies will be of interest to other foundations and institutional investors as we also expect to learn from the experience of others.
*The Rockefeller Brothers Fund has signed a slightly revised version of the Philanthropy commitment letter.
At the heart of all TSFF's climate work lies the objective of reducing reliance on fossil fuels, while accelerating the production and adoption of renewable energy in our country. We think such transformative change will have a ripple effect, mitigating impacts from climate disruption, ensuring clean air and water, creating jobs and improving overall human health. We also see our world as deeply interconnected and realize that only through bold and innovative ideas can we catapult past outdated economic models.
By joining the Divest-Invest Initiative and focusing on investing in the new energy economy globally, TSFF takes a catalytic step forward in addressing today's complex climate issues. We are fully committed to ensuring that all of our efforts serve the public good and reinforce the ongoing work of our grantees.
The urgency of the climate crisis and its implications for the future requires that individuals and institutions take purposeful action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases now and into the future. In support of the moral, economic and environmental imperative to create a livable climate for all, The Winslow Foundation is committed to ending the use of fossil fuels, thereby reducing carbon emissions and their impact. To match this vision and commitment, Winslow joins the growing number of institutions that will no longer profit from the continued exploration and development of fossil fuels because we are fully aware of what the burning of those fuels will do to our planet. As policy makers need to act, investors can as well. In doing so, we send a message to the fossil fuel industry and world leaders that we are committed to making the right energy choices, and expect them to do the same.
Among other measures, The Winslow Foundation has instructed its financial advisers to reject any investments designed to explore for or develop new reserves of fossil fuels. These actions are being taken in service of the economic and environmental interests of current and future generations, as well as the Earth’s life support systems upon which we all depend.