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Vermont Community Foundation Announces New Approach to Socially Responsible Investment Strategy Following Growth in Fundholder Interest

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Today, the Vermont Community Foundation announced that it has updated its Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) pool to align more closely with the organization’s mission and values. When the Foundation introduced the SRI Pool more than ten years ago, it was among the first community foundations to offer donor advised fundholders the option to actively avoid investments inconsistent with their personal values.

As the landscape for asset management evolved and fundholder interest grew, the Foundation looked to establish a set of core values and positive screens that would inform how capital is allocated within the pool. The review began with an exploration of the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors that were supportive of the Foundation’s goals. After a two-year analysis, the Foundation identified and committed to four core values:

  • Advance and Strengthen Civil Society
  • Promote Environmental Integrity
  • Lead Community Improvement and Betterment
  • Build Economic Durability

“Over the past five years, we’ve seen nearly 300% growth of our socially responsible investments as a result of both strong returns and more fundholders seeking fund management that considers economic, social, and environmental factors,” notes Vermont Community Foundation President and CEO Dan Smith. “Committing to these core values will improve our ability to ensure philanthropic capital is invested in ways that build a better Vermont now and for the future.”

After the Foundation defined its core values for the SRI pool, it was important to identify a common language to interpret the values for investment managers. The Foundation found this complement in the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs, which were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provide a collective roadmap to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

“A major motivation for going through this process is so we can be more intentional and articulate with how our values-informed investments are managed,” explains Foundation Vice President for Finance and CFO Deb Dabrowski. “When we can make this process relatable by using well-known platforms like the SDGs, it becomes that much more tangible for fundholders.”

Foundation leadership shared that the organization will further grow the SRI pool by shifting $30 million of its discretionary assets into the pool over the next year.

For more information regarding the Foundation’s changes to its SRI pool, read about the review process from Controller David Morrissey.