Founded in 1971, Commonfund is an asset management firm dedicated to enhancing our clients’ financial resources by delivering exceptional performance, service, and insight.
Our extensive experience in the investment industry allows us to provide informed and relevant solutions to institutional investors. Our comprehensive approach is designed to help you navigate the complexities of investing. The size of our firm differentiates us from many other managers; we’re large enough to have a full team of experienced investors and back-office staff to assist with everything you need to run a sophisticated global portfolio but we’re small enough that we can get to know you and understand your needs. We also have enough buying power to gain access to high-quality managers and negotiate fees on behalf of our investors.
Commonfund’s core mission is to enhance the financial resources of our clients and help them improve their investment management practices. As a private, nonprofit organization, we are beholden to our clients, not shareholders or outside owners. This enables us to align our interests with those of our clients and lets us focus our undivided attention on institutional asset management. We execute our mission through three components that form our foundation. This base allows us to hire, grow, and retain talented individuals, invest in resources and support assets, and deliver a wide range of educational programs specifically for institutional investors.
The idea of Commonfund came about in the late 1960s. Investment returns of college endowments were lagging behind the growth in operating budgets. This lag caused increasing concern throughout the higher education industry about the future sustainability of these institutions. Traditional endowment practices of the time also hampered the ability to fully address these issues.
To dive deeper into this subject, The Ford Foundation sponsored a seminal study ‘The Law and the Lore of Endowment Funds’ that helped shed light on the then-new concept of total return and the impact it could have on institutions.
As a result of The Ford Foundation’s study, a grant for $2.8 million was given for the founding of The Common Fund for Nonprofit Organizations (Commonfund). Two years later, The Common Fund was officially founded.
Over the years, we’ve grown and expanded the range of investment funds and supporting services we offers. Along the way, our company has experienced a variety of key milestones.
Speakers: Maria Tapia, former President, Commonfund Securities, Inc., Peter Burns, former President & CEO, CF Private Equity; John Griswold, former Executive Director, Commonfund Institute; Tim Yates, CEO & President, Commonfund OCIO; Elaine Mizer, Chief Human Resources Officer, Commonfund; Caroline Greer, Managing Director, Commonfund OCIO; George Suttles, Executive Director, Commonfund Institute. Video was published in July 2021 in celebration of 50 years.
Commonfund celebrates 50 years of asset management for nonprofit investors.
Commonfund hosts first all-virtual Forum in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Commonfund sponsors the 2021 Climate Action Pursuit led by Second Nature and the Intentional Endowments Network, the Pursuit is a series of milestone check-in points throughout 2021 focused on learning, planning, acting, and leading on equity and climate on our campuses, in our communities, and across our society and economy.
Commonfund becomes a signatory to the 2020 Belonging Pledge—A Commitment to Advance Racial Equity sponsored by the Confluence Philanthropy. The pledge recognizes that racial equity belongs throughout the investment process and that change can occur with commitment, goals and measurable benchmarks.
Commonfund opens first environmental sustainability strategy for Private Equity.
First carbon neutral Commonfund Forum.
According to the 2019 Cogent Reports US Intitutional Investor Brandscape Commonfund Forum emerges as the second most popular conference among non-profits, rivaling NACUBO. Read more about Survey and Rankings and Awards.
Commonfund launches Diverse Manager Portal to broaden client access to diverse investment talent.
2018 Insitutional Asset Management Awards sponsored by Fundmap recognizes Commonfund as "Highly Commended OCIO Provider".
Commonfund launches Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Office.
Inaugural Commonfund Corporate Responsibility Report.
According to the 2018 Cogent Reports US Institutional Investor Brandscape:
Commonfund returns to New York City with the opening of a new office at 280 Park Avenue.
Commonfund becomes a signatory to the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).
Expanded clients served to include pension funds, family offices and select other long-term investors.
Opened second international office in Beijing.
Introduced Commonfund Treasury Access Cash Management Platform.
Introduced Separate Account Management.
Opened Commonfund's first international office in London.
Commonfund Institute assumed responsibility for compiling and publishing the Higher Education Price Index (HEPI).
The first Commonfund Benchmarks Study is published.
Introduced Commonfund Strategic Solutions – a fully discretionary advisory service for institutions looking to outsource their investment office.
Treasury Institute and Commonfund Institute are formed.
First Commonfund Forum is held.
Expansion to provide service to Canadian educational institutions.
Mission broadened to include nonprofit foundations and healthcare organizations.
Launch of initial client portal.
First Commonfund Prize for investment research is announced.
Commonfund launches Treasury Access, a web-enabled cash concentration tool to help nonprofits manage operating reserves and working capital balances.
Commonfund expands presence in alternative investments with introduction of hedge fund strategies.
Development of Endowment Institute, a seminar for senior financial officers and trustees held annually.
A series of focused equity and fixed income funds introduced.
Commonfund enters alternative investments area.
Commonfund Capital launches first energy fund.
Commonfund makes first investment in distressed debt.
Commonfund Capital, Inc. created to access opportunities in venture capital, domestic private equity, international private capital and natural resources.
The Allocation Planning Model (APM), a computerized tool for simulating endowment performance under a range of asset allocation variables, is developed and made available to clients.
Commonfund launches the first in a series of South Africa Free (SAF) funds.
Launch of Global Bond Funds takes Commonfund into foreign fixed income markets.
International Equity Fund launch establishes Commonfund as a pioneer in international investing.
Early leader in diversifying equity portfolio using hedging strategy.
Commonfund assets undermanagement reach $500 million after 10 years of operation, and the moves its corporate headquarters from New York City to Connecticut.
Introduction of first endowment fixed income fund, the Multi-Strategy Bond Fund.
The Short Term Fund for the management of operating cash commenced operations.
Commonfund’s first research publication, Measuring Investment Performance and Setting Investment Objectives by J. Peter Williamson of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, was released, creating a continuing legacy of research and publications.
“The Common Fund for Nonprofit Organizations” commences operation (the organization adopted the trade name “Commonfund” in 1998) with $72 million from 63 college and university endowments invested in the Equity Fund (today called the Multi-Strategy Equity Fund).
The firm is founded with a $2.8 million grant from the Ford Foundation, $500,000 of which was set aside for educational programs, research and publishing.
The Ford Foundation publishes two seminal studies, The Law and Lore of Endowment Funds, by William L. Cary and Craig B. Bright and, “Managing Educational Endowments”, by Robert R. Barker. These reports paved the way for the creation of Commonfund.