Commonfund Institute

10 Key Takeaways from
Commonfund Forum 2017

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Mar 29, 2017

Topic: Industry Knowledge | Investment Strategy | Market Commentary

Commonfund recently hosted its 19th annual Commonfund Forum in San Antonio Texas. The event brought together about 450 institutional investors from the U.S, Puerto Rico and Canada to engage in a 3-day conference to explore cyclical trends and tactical opportunities that can help support the missions of their institutions. More than 60 experts in academia, public policy and government convened in General Sessions, Major Addresses and Breakout sessions. Here are 10 key takeaways from Commonfund Forum 2017.

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National Carbon Pricing Webinar

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Mar 28, 2017

Topic: Industry Knowledge | Responsible Investing

The Bard Center for Environmental Policy and the #PutAPriceOnIt campaign will host a national webinar April 5th at 7 pm ET, on carbon pricing for colleges, universities, and community groups. Schools and organizations across the U.S. are invited to participate in this event, which includes a free screening of the Years of Living Dangerously episode “Priceless,” followed by an expert panel discussion.

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2016 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments Results Released

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Jan 31, 2017

Topic: Asset Allocation | Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge

Data gathered from 805 U.S. colleges and universities for the 2016 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments® (NCSE) show that participating institutions’ endowments returned an average of -1.9 percent (net of fees) for the 2016 fiscal year (July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016). This year’s negative return, following the low 2.4 percent return reported for FY2015, contributed to a decline in long-term 10-year average annual returns to 5.0 percent from last year’s 6.3 percent.

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Commonfund Forum: Exclusive Conference for Eligible Investors

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Nov 30, 2016

Topic: Partners

Free to attend for qualified institutional investors, the annual Commonfund Forum is the must-attend annual conference. Hear from headline-making thought leaders on the topics that are important to your institution.

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Does Your Institution Qualify to Attend?

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Nov 30, 2016

Topic: Uncategorized

The annual Commonfund Forum has grown into the must-attend annual conference for institutional investors. Year after year, Commonfund Forum continues to provide institutional investors with timely information, thoughtful analysis and unique perspectives — all from recognized experts in the worlds of investment management, economics, business and finance, government, academia, and the media.

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2015 CSHO Study of Healthcare Organizations Released

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Nov 1, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation | Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge

Data gathered in the 2014-2015 Commonfund Benchmarks Study of Healthcare Organizations (CSHO) reveals investment challenges facing hospitals. Participants report 4.4 percent return for FY 2014 but -1.6 percent for FY2015.

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2016 HEPI Report Released

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Oct 31, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge | Operating Assets

The annual Commonfund Higher Education Price Index (HEPI) report provides an analysis of HEPI and the cost factors associated with the index. Download your copy today to determine increases in funding necessary to maintain both real purchasing power and investment at your institution.

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Viewpoint: A Firmer Foundation

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Sep 2, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge | Responsible Investing

How long is the long term? A year ago, private and community foundations appeared to many observers to have recovered from the losses suffered in the 2008–09 global financial crisis. Double-digit investment returns had been reported in every year except FY2011 and FY2014, donations to community foundations had returned to their pre-crisis levels and the investment strategies of successful foundations were once again followed closely in the financial press.

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2015 CCSF Study of Foundations Released

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Aug 23, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation | Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge

Data gathered in the 2015 Council on Foundations - Commonfund Study of Investment of Endowments for Private and Community Foundations (CCSF) shows Foundations' spending in support of mission holds steady, despite second year of declining investment returns.

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Responsible Investing Study of Foundations Released

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Jul 14, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy | Investment Strategy | Responsible Investing

The Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study of Responsible Investing was issued jointly today by the two representative organizations. The study, believed to be the most comprehensive and detailed to date on the topic among private and public foundations, analyzed the policies, practices and attitudes with respect to responsible investing among 186 U.S. private and public/community foundations representing a total of $39.7 billion in endowment assets as of December 31, 2014.

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Commonfund Study of Responsible Investing: Foundations Survey

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Jul 14, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation | Investment Strategy | Responsible Investing

Commonfund Institute and The Council on Foundations survey builds upon the 2014 Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study of Investment of Endowments for Private and Community Foundations® (CCSF) by delving in to responsible investing practices, policies and portfolio strategies.

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Investment Management
Principle 7: Fiduciary Responsibilities

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Jun 16, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge

In this final installation of Commonfund's 7-part series of Principles of Investment Management, we will review Principle #7: Fiduciary Responsibilities. The responsibilities of those charged with oversight of a long-term investment fund such as an educational, religious or charitable endowment, foundation, hospital asset pool or pension fund differ fundamentally from those of other investment fiduciaries. It's essential to define the roles of trustees, investment officers...

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Responsible Investing for Foundations

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Jun 13, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation | Investment Strategy | Responsible Investing

Commonfund and Council on Foundations are thrilled to announce the release of the 2016 Council on Foundations – Commonfund Study of Responsible Investing. It is the largest and most detailed survey to date on practices, policies and attitudes relating to socially-responsible investing (SRI), environmental, social and governance integration (ESG) and impact or mission-related investing (MRI) among U.S. private and public founda­tions. The Study encompasses both the policies of foundations that have adopted any of the responsible investing practices listed and the attitudes toward responsible investing of those that have not.

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Striking the Balance: A Fiduciary Approach to Risk and Investment Policy

Posted by Commonfund Institute on May 31, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation | Governance and Policy | Investment Strategy | Risk Management

In formulating an investment policy, fiduciaries frequently treat risk as an output of portfolio construction and asset allocation processes, giving priority to return objectives. Fiduciaries would do better to acknowledge risk as a primary input which guides and constrains those charged with institutional governance and investment policy formulation. Download this paper to help determine practical methods to assign risk when formulating an investment policy for your institution.

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Investment Management
Principle 6: Cost Management

Posted by Commonfund Institute on May 24, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge

In this installation of Commonfund's 7-part series of Principles of Investment Management, we will review Principle #6: Cost Management. The costs of your investment program can quietly undercut returns; make sure you keep those costs reasonable in relation to the returns you expect to receive. The investment management function requires a deliberate commitment to cost management. Cost control essentially involves three types of activity...

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Investment Management
Principle 5: Risk Management

Posted by Commonfund Institute on May 3, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge | Investment Strategy | Risk Management

In this installation of Commonfund's 7-part series of Principles of Investment Management, we will review Principle #5: Risk Management. Risk can be defined broadly as anything that can result in the objectives of the portfolio not being met. The process of risk management seeks to enable fiduciaries to make the best possible investment decisions in the face of uncertainty and to maximize the likelihood that your portfolio objectives will be achieved.

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Investment Management
Principle 4: Manager Selection

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Apr 22, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge | Investment Strategy

In this installation of Commonfund's 7-part series of Principles of Investment Management, we will review Principle #4: Manager Selection. In the past trustees did the investing themselves or assigned the task to one or two all-purpose managers. During the last three decades, that model has been superseded by one in which fiduciaries delegate management of the portfolio to a variety of specialized investment managers, seeking those with a demonstrated record of exceeding their benchmarks.

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Investment Management
Principle 3: Asset Allocation

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Apr 7, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation | Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge | Investment Strategy

In this installation of Commonfund's 7-part series of Principles of Investment Management, we will review Principle #3: Asset Allocation. Arguably one of the most important investment-related decisions, asset allocation will largely determine the level of risk-adjusted return you are seeking. A key responsibility of the governing board, your strategic asset allocation policy will set the course for investing the fund for many years to come. But determining an optimal asset allocation for your institution’s portfolio involves more than numbers.

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Investment Management
Principle 2: Payout Policy

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Mar 17, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge | Investment Strategy

In this installation of Commonfund's 7-part series of Principles of Investment Management, we will review Principle #2: Payout Policy. Determining how much of the fund can be transferred each year to the operating budget or to designated beneficiaries while still maintaining the fund's ability to support its mission in the future.

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Investment Management
Principle 1: Objectives

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Mar 11, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge | Investment Strategy

The responsibilities of those charged with oversight of a long-term investment fund such as an educational, religious or charitable endowment, foundation, hospital asset pool or pension fund differ fundamentally from those of other investment fiduciaries. The differences arise primarily from the nature of these funds’ beneficiaries. In this 7-part series, we’re going to discuss key issues and essential principles of investment management. We’ll start with Principle #1: Objectives.

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Viewpoint:
Seven Years On

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Mar 11, 2016

Topic: Industry Knowledge

How long is the long term? A year ago, endowments appeared to many observers to have recovered from the losses suffered in the 2008-09 global financial crisis. Double-digit investment returns had been reported in every year except FY2012, donations had returned to their pre-crisis levels and the investment strategies of successful endowments were once again followed closely in the financial press.

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Be Heard: Participate in the next Study of Endowments

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Mar 2, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge

Become a participant in the next NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments® (NCSE). The NCSE provides the most comprehensive analysis of financial, investment and governance policies and practices. Let your voice be heard on a range of topics important to educational endowments.

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2015 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments Results Released

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Jan 27, 2016

Topic: Industry Knowledge

Data gathered from 812 U.S. colleges and universities for the 2015 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments® (NCSE) show that participating institutions’ endowments returned an average of 2.4 percent (net of fees) for the 2015 fiscal year (July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015) compared with 15.5 percent for the 2014 fiscal year. This year’s return was the lowest since the -0.3 percent reported for FY2012 and contributed to a decline in long-term 10-year average annual returns, to 6.3 percent from last year’s 7.1 percent. This year’s long-term return figure is well below the median 7.5 percent that most endowments report they need to earn in order to maintain their purchasing power after spending, inflation and investment management costs.

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Be Heard: Participate in the next Study of Operating Charities

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Oct 11, 2015

Topic: Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge

Become a participant in the next Operating Charities Study. The Commonfund Benchmarks Study® – Operating Charities Report provides an in-depth analysis of the investment and governance policies and practices of cultural, religious and social service organizations across the U.S. Let your voice be heard on a range a topics important to operating charities.

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Be Heard: Participate in the next Study of Healthcare Organizations

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Aug 28, 2015

Topic: Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge

Become a participant in the next Healthcare Organizations Report. The Commonfund Benchmarks Study® – Healthcare Organizations Report provides an analysis of the investment and governance policies and practices of nonprofit healthcare organizations across the U.S. Let your voice be heard on a range a topics important to healthcare organizations.

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Be Heard: Participate in the next Study of Private and Community Foundations

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Aug 21, 2015

Topic: Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge

Become a participant in the next Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study of Investment of Endowments for Private and Community Foundations (CCSF). This annual report provides an overview on investment and governance policies and practices of endowments for private and community foundations.

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Principles of Investment Management for Long-Term Investors

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Mar 11, 2015

Topic: Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge

Are you a fiduciary who oversees a long-term investment fund such as an educational, religious or charitable endowment, foundation, hospital asset pool or pension fund? If so, then your role differs fundamentally from those of other investment fiduciaries. With that in mind, we have published the Principles of Investment Management for Long-Term Funds. Download this brochure today to review the key issues and essential principles that you should consider in your decision making process. In it, we discuss…

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About Forum

Posted by Commonfund Institute on May 16, 2014

Topic: Uncategorized

For more than 18 years, Commonfund Forum has grown into the must-attend annual conference for institutional investors. Financial markets may gyrate up and down. But Commonfund Forum remains consistent, steady, and always committed to a program of unsurpassed quality. Year after year, Commonfund Forum continues to provide institutional investors with timely information thoughtful analysis and unique perspectives – all from recognized experts in the worlds of investment management, economics, business and finance, government, academia, and the media.

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Viewpoint: A Different Kind of Climate Change

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Nov 12, 2013

Topic: Industry Knowledge | Investment Strategy

While operating charities entered the financial crisis with asset allocations that reflected their priorities and preferences at the time — and that were, in many respects, remarkably similar across the three categories of institution — the ensuing seven-year period has seen continual evolution and differentiation, with the result that these organizations, while they have moved in the same general direction of increased diversification, have done so in ways that reflect their own institutional preferences and priorities.

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Endowment Spending: A Look Back

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Sep 1, 2012

Topic: Governance and Policy | Industry Knowledge | Investment Strategy

Market volatility has severely tested many nonprofit institutions, causing them to revisit their endowment spending practices. In this paper, Fred Rogers, Vice President and Treasurer of Carleton College, analyzes the NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments® findings and provides a brief primer on endowment spending, budgeting and accounting practices at institutions of higher education.

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Essential Not Optional

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Aug 25, 2012

Topic: Industry Knowledge

In an era when many believe that returns from financial markets will be lower than in the recent past, endowed nonprofits no longer have the option of treating fund-raising as a tactical resource. Fund-raising for endowments has become an essential strategic capability that endowed institutions will have to build or acquire in order to thrive – or, perhaps, to survive. For this paper, we have reviewed the existing literature and sources of information on giving, and have been able to consult with leading academic researchers and fundraisers for leading nonprofit institutions. Their contributions form the basis for the conclusions expressed here.

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