Why It Matters
Here is the story. The IRS requires foundations to disperse 5% of their assets annually. This money typically goes to grants, salaries, and overhead and fulfills a foundation’s mission. The other 95% is almost always invested in the stock market to make as much money for the foundation as possible. Rarely does the foundation’s mission have anything to do with these investments. These are dollars—trillions of dollars—that could be performing double duty of growing returns and working for the changes our society and planet so urgently need.
When foundations take a hard look at this 95%, most discover that their investments are at odds with their programmatic work. For example, foundations that work to address the climate crisis often find they have large holdings in oil and fracking. If you measured the 5% and 95% against foundations’ missions, most would receive large negative scores.
The Untours Foundation has been 100% mission aligned since our founding 30 years ago. Our endowment has been a revolving loan fund that we invest in entrepreneurs, who create jobs for vulnerable populations, solve social and economic problems, and make the health of our planet a serious priority. We are 100% mission aligned and proud of it!
This is why we write, speak, and consult with other foundations to help them along in their own journey. We’ve learned a thing or two over the past 30 years and we love sharing those lessons!
We Can Help
We understand that most foundations need to take gradual steps toward aligning their endowment with their mission. We offer a variety of services to meet foundations where they are and help to plan a path forward.
- Keynote addresses and seminars
- Educational resources for Boards, Staff, and Investment Committees
- “Know What You Own” reports that compare your endowment investments with your mission. This is a vital starting point for foundations to understand where their money is currently placed.*
- Strategic planning to create an “Endowment for Impact” roadmap that will guide your efforts to align your endowment with your mission through intentional management of public investments and direct private investments.
- Active management of funds for direct investments into aligned companies and funds.
- Due diligence for mission aligned investments
*Endowment reports are completed in partnership with Andorra.
Contact Elizabeth Killough for more information about our Mission Aligned Investing services.
Want to learn more?
We talk and write extensively on this topic. Here’s a sampling:
- A fun podcast that features Elizabeth explaining how the Untours Foundation invests.
- What foundation board members should be doing in their role as fiduciaries.
- A HuffPost Blog on the ten valiant steps to align endowments with mission.
- Another HuffPost Blog featuring our endowment champion, Laura Kind McKenna, walking her talk.
- A discussion of risk in investing.
Photo: Mission aligned champion Laura Kind McKenna, “Father of Mission Aligned Investing” Luther Ragin, Jr., and Untours Foundation Co-CEO Elizabeth Killough