Update From the Foundation

All-In Philanthropy

February 19, 2014

Three members of the Compton Foundation team (Jennifer Turnage, manager of grants and accounting, Emilie Cortes, board trustee and treasure, and I) spent early February at the 4th annual meeting of Confluence Philanthropy. Our time at the conference affirmed our commitment to, and the great inspiration we take from, the movement to align 100% of philanthropic assets with mission. This movement is transforming philanthropy—and transforming the Compton Foundation.

A year ago the trustees of the Compton Foundation voted to move our entire portfolio to 100% mission aligned investments over the next few years and hired new investment consultants to support us in that transition—the smart and visionary team at Sonen Capital.  At the end of last year, our board enthusiastically agreed to sign on to the Divest/Invest campaign, calling on foundations to join universities, cities, and other institutional investors in fully divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in the transition to a new and sustainable energy economy. We are grateful for the leadership of Ellen Dorsey at the Wallace Global Fund, who has consistently advocated for the fiduciary, financial, and moral issues driving this movement. We are also inspired by all of our other fellow Divest/Invest cosigners who are stepping up and challenging all foundations to truly put our “money where our values are.”

The movement to align all foundation resources with mission has many names—socially responsible investing, impact investing, mission aligned investing—but at its heart what it’s about for the Compton Foundation is “All-In Philanthropy.” We want to use every asset we have—grants, investments, people, networks—to strategically and urgently advance our mission. It is not morally consistent to make grants with just 5% of our resources while 95% of our resources are invested in ways that undermine the movements we hope to propel with our grants. Our investments and our grants are part of one overarching ecosystem of strategies to advance change. Using our market power as investors is a critical, if under used, tool in the kit available to all foundations that seek to advance a social and environmental change mission.

The Confluence Philanthropy conference affirmed that this movement has momentum: it is pivoting from the use of negative screens, for instance, to positive (and profitable) investments in enterprises that are creating value in communities and building the sustainable and equitable future we believe is possible. This movement is going mainstream (what a hoot to see the HOME PAGE of Goldman Sachs tout their impact investing team and social impact bonds!).

Philanthropy is behind the curve on this. We need a tsunami of foundations signing on to the Divest/Invest campaign, using proxy power to push companies to do things like hire more women and people of color, pay a living wage, provide health care and safe working conditions, and evaluate their environmental risks and opportunities, and we need foundations to follow the lead of the F.B. Heron Foundation, which is challenging the “business as usual” approach to philanthropy and exploring entirely new models of investment.

At the Compton Foundation, we are committed to “All-In Philanthropy.”  Please join us!!

Ellen

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