The Endowment Challenge

Jul 19, 2013
  • Description

The financial crisis of 2008 is nearly five years behind us, yet its impact on nonprofit organizations persists. The bull market that began in the early 1980s delivered historically strong returns for most long-term investment portfolios through 2008, but the factors that contributed to that performance may have run their course. Equity returns weakened over the past decade, and despite better results from bonds, overall portfolio returns have declined. Looking ahead, inflation is likely to remain low, but investment returns are also expected to be lower for the next few market cycles within more volatile markets. This will make it difficult for nonprofits to rebound from portfolio losses suffered in the 2008 downturn. Nonprofits face a "New Reality" of lower returns, higher volatility and increased scrutiny from boards and regulators. This paper discusses the challenges and opportunities nonprofit organizations face in a changing market environment.