Commonfund Study of Responsible Investing: A Survey of Endowments and Their Affiliated Foundations

Apr 01, 2015
  • Description

This Study analyzes policies, practices and attitudes with respect to responsible investing among 200 U.S. colleges and universities, constituting 24.0 percent of the 832 institutions that participated in the 2014 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments (NCSE). These respondents, whose chief business officers volunteered to participate in this follow-up Study, comprised 123 private and 77 public institutions with a total of $88.8 billion in endowment assets as of June 30, 2014, or 17.2 percent of the $516.0 billion total included in the NCSE, and encompassed a wide range of endowment sizes and geographic locations across the U.S. The 2014 study focused on four approaches to responsible investing: SRI, ESG, impact investing, and divestment of fossil fuels. Responses regarding SRI and ESG were received in sufficient numbers to support a detailed analysis; the number of institutions responding to questions regarding impact investing and divestment of fossil fuels, however, was comparatively low, making it difficult to draw reliable conclusions on these topics. Commentary in the main body of this paper therefore focuses primarily on SRI and ESG, with impact investing and divestment being reviewed in the Executive Summary.