Topic: Perspectives

Insights from CF Private Equity Roadshow: Real Assets & Sustainability

Over the last few months, the CF Private Equity RAS team members Ethan Levine, Head of Real Assets and Sustainability and Dan Connell, Managing Director hosted two roundtable lunch discussions with...

CIO Roundtable

Commonfund hosted its annual Commonfund Forum, March 10-12th, in Orlando, Florida. The agenda included a range of sessions on relevant topics for institutional investors. This Forum Spotlight...

Topline Findings from the FY2023 CSIS

Commonfund Institute review the highlights and trends from the recently released Commonfund Benchmarks Study® of Independent Schools (CSIS). Commonfund Institute's Allison Kaspriske, Director leads...

Will AI Save the World or Ruin It?

Commonfund hosted its annual Commonfund Forum, March 10-12th, in Orlando, Florida. The agenda included a range of sessions on relevant topics for institutional investors. This Forum Spotlight...

Viewpoint | Top Concerns for Independent Schools

For the first time since the inception of the Study, the FY2023 Commonfund Benchmarks Study® of Independent Schools (CSIS) report asked respondents to identify the top concerns for their...

Commonfund Survey Finds Investors Remain Optimistic in 2024

Institutional Investors Remain Optimistic in 2024 Despite Macroeconomic Headwinds, Commonfund’s Annual Market Sentiment Survey Finds Seventy seven percent of institutional investors surveyed...

Viewpoint | The Main Purpose of Independent School Endowments

The FY2023 Commonfund Benchmarks Study® of Independent Schools (CSIS) prompted survey respondents to select the main purpose of their school’s endowment for the first time.

Commonfund Forum 2024: 5 Key Takeaways

Commonfund Forum 2024 brought together 500+ attendees representing institutions with $890 billion in endowed assets in a 2.5-day conference. The event, themed “With Intention”, featured a...

Forum 2024 Key Statistics [Infographic]

Commonfund recently hosted its 26th annual Commonfund Forum, March 10th-12th, in Orlando, Florida. The event brought together institutional investors to engage in a three-day conference to explore...

Study of Independent Schools - Key Highlights [Infographic] 2023

For fiscal year 2023, independent schools reported an average return (net of fees) on their endowment assets of 9.2 percent. In this infographic, we report the key highlights from the 2023 Commonfund...

Study of Endowments - Key Highlights [Infographic] 2023

For fiscal year 2023, U.S. higher education endowments reported an average return (net of fees) on their endowment assets of 7.7 percent. In this infographic, we report the key highlights from the...

Commonfund Study of Independent Schools Released for FY2023

Independent Schools Report 9.2% Return on Endowment Assets for FY2023, Marking Reversal from Last Year’s -11.3% Loss Returns Rebound; New Gifts to Endowments Fall, Responsible Investing Tempers...

FY23 NACUBO-Commonfund Study Released

U.S. Higher Education Endowments Report 7.7% Return for FY23 While Spending More in Support of Their Missions 50th anniversary NACUBO-Commonfund Study shows participating colleges and universities...

The NACUBO Endowment Study: A 50-Year Retrospective

Documenting a Period of Unprecedented Change The NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments (NCSE) for fiscal year 2023 marks the 50th consecutive year that NACUBO has published a Study of the endowments...

Celebrating Black History Month: A Resource Guide

Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the...

2023 HEPI Report Released

Inflation for U.S. Higher Education Institutions Rises 4.0% in Fiscal 2023, Down from Fiscal 2022 Rate WILTON, Conn., December 13, 2023 – Data from the annual Commonfund Higher Education Price Index®...

A Winter Wonderland of Books to Warm Your Soul and Inspire Creativity!

Commonfund Institute is excited to share our staff-curated reading list this winter, filled with stories that warm the heart and spark imagination. We extend our warmest wishes for a season filled...

Viewpoint | Analyzing Community Foundation Data by Region

For the 2022 Council on Foundations - Commonfund Study of Foundations, we provided an analysis of community foundation data by five geographic regions. Community foundations lend themselves to this...

Commonfund on the Road: Insights from our Portland Roundtable

For over 50 years, Commonfund has been working with boards and committee members on designing and implementing an investment structure that supports maintaining intergenerational equity or the...

Foundation Leaders Highlight Successful Long-Term Investment Strategies during Turbulent Times

On September 27, 2023, Commonfund Institute hosted a webinar, “Highlights of the 2022 CCSF: A Deep Dive with Foundation Leaders.” The panel featured Elizabeth McGeveran, Director of Investments at...

Highlights of the 2022 CCSF: A Deep Dive with Foundation Leaders

A discussion of the results from the newly released 2022 Council on Foundations–Commonfund Study of Investment of Endowments for Private and Community Foundations® (CCSF). This webinar marks the...

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: A Resource Guide

National Hispanic Heritage Month (Spanish: Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana) is an annual celebration commemorating the history, contributions, and culture of U.S. Latino and Hispanic communities....

FY2022 Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study of Foundations Highlights

In a recent webinar, Commonfund Institute and the Council on Foundations reviewed the highlights from the 2022 Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study of Foundations.

Bright Spots for Foundations in 2022 and Early 2023

In a period where individual giving was down, historic levels of inflation put pressure on markets and the real economy, private and community foundations were asked to provide more resources to...

Study of Foundations - Key Highlights [Infographic] 2022

In this infographic, we report the key highlights from the 2022 Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study of Foundations. For the year ended December 31, 2022, participating foundations reported an...

Foundations' Endowed Portfolios Produced Lower Returns in 2022

Longer-term results also eased, according to data from the annual Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study; despite lower returns, spending in support of missions held steady. Wilton, Conn. (August...

Observations from the 2023 NACUBO Annual Meeting

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending the NACUBO Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL, where nearly 2,000 representatives from higher education institutions across North America came together to share...

Affirmative Action: Implications for Endowments, Foundations, and the Broader Industry

Affirmative action, a practice used since the 1960s to edge toward equity and address historical and ongoing injustice through higher education attainment, was struck down last month by the Supreme...

Pregnant Worker Fairness Act (PWFA) – A New Baseline DEI Standard

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are priorities throughout the asset management industry and the broader nonprofit landscape. Worker support policies like paid leave are often available in business...

Five Key Insights from the 2023 Investment Stewardship Academy

Interning at Commonfund Institute has been a constant process of learning. Since starting my internship in early June, my knowledge has increased as my formal study of economics at UChicago connects...

The Value of Collective Learning: Takeaways from the Commonfund Institute 2023 Investment Stewardship Academy

In June 2023, the Commonfund Institute hosted 36 nonprofit leaders on the campus of Yale University for our premier educational event – the Investment Stewardship Academy (ISA). Much has changed...

Commonfund on the Road: Insights from our Seattle Roundtable

Commonfund OCIO recently hosted a roundtable luncheon in Seattle, WA, for local nonprofit leaders. During our time together, we discussed how institutions can attain intergenerational equity in their...

Fiscal Year-End and Mid-Year 2023 Market and Investment Review

The end of fiscal year 2023, and mid-point of the calendar year, marks the end of the pandemic years. At this point, many have returned to the workplace, at least part time, in-person meetings have...

Soak Up Some Sun with One of Our Favorite Books!

Commonfund Institute is excited to share our must-reads for summer 2023. These books are the perfect partner for some fun in the sun, or some time relaxing in the shade. We hope you have a great...

Celebrating Pride Month: A Resource Guide

Pride month is the promotion of the self-affirmation, dignity, equality and increased visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people (LGBT+) as a social group. Pride as opposed to shame...

Commonfund Institute Releases Custom Data on Religious Independent Schools

Top-line Findings from an Analysis of Religious Independent K-12 Schools Earlier this year Commonfund Institute released the 2022 Commonfund Benchmarks Study® of Independent Schools (CSIS), covering...

The Investment Stewardship Academy Returns to Yale This June

The Investment Stewardship Academy, Commonfund Institute’s three-day intensive academic program is set to resume in-person June 20-23 for the first time since 2019.

Celebrate! 25 Years of NBOA: The Endowment Landscape

A deep dive into independent school endowment's trends FY2005-FY2022, including analysis of asset allocation, performance, spending and contributions, plus a perspective on future developments....

Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month got its start as a congressional bill, inspired by Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month, with the mission of bringing attention to the...

Taking a Regional Perspective

The Commonfund Benchmarks Study® of Independent Schools (CSIS) report provides and analysis of the investment and governance policies and practices of U.S. independent day and boarding schools. For...

Study of Independent Schools - Key Highlights [Infographic] 2022

For fiscal year 2022, independent schools reported an average return (net of fees) on their endowment assets of -11.3 percent. In this infographic, we report the key highlights from the 2022...

Returns for Independent Schools Decline in FY2022

Independent Schools Report -11.3% Return on Endowment Assets for FY2022, Marking Sharp Reversal from Last Year’s 25.8% Gain Prior Years’ Returns Mitigate Long-Term Impact; New Gifts to Endowments...

NACUBO and Commonfund Partner on Higher Education Endowment Research

Partnership to produce 50th annual Study of Endowments WILTON, CT, and WASHINGTON, DC, March 13, 2023 – Commonfund and the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO)...

Celebrating Women's History Month

Women's History Month 2023 | Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories Women’s History Month is an annual declared month that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary...

Commonfund Survey Finds Investors are Optimistic in 2023

Institutional investors representing $849 billion in total assets attended this year’s Commonfund Forum. Survey respondents cite ongoing interest rate hikes and geopolitical tensions as top economic...

Forum 2023 Key Statistics [Infographic]

Commonfund recently hosted its 25th annual Commonfund Forum, February 13-15th, in Boca Raton, Florida. The event brought together institutional investors to engage in a three-day conference to...

Commonfund Forum 2023: 5 Key Takeaways

Commonfund recently hosted its 25th annual Commonfund Forum in Boca Raton, Florida. The event, themed “Still We Rise”, brought together 500+ attendees representing institutions with almost $850...

Commonfund Renames Its Two Core Businesses

The move will bring added clarity to an expanding range of offerings JANUARY 3, 2023, Wilton, CT - Commonfund is introducing new names for its two core businesses that will enhance clarity while...

Community Foundations - Challenges & Opportunities - Commonfund Coffee Talk

Community Foundations - Challenges & Opportunities

Impact and Values-Aligned Investing - Commonfund Coffee Talk

IMpact and Values-aligned investing The second session in our Commonfund Coffee Talk series focuses on the opportunities that foundations have in the impact and values-aligned investing spaces....

The State of Private and Community Foundations - Commonfund Coffee Talk

The State of Private and Community Foundations Our 2022 Commonfund Coffee Talk series kicked off with a focus on the challenges facing private and community foundations, what they are doing to...

Get Cozy This Winter with One of Our Favorite Books!

Commonfund Institute is excited to share our most recent picks for our annual winter reading list, gathered from our Commonfund colleagues. We send you our warmest wishes for the holidays and can’t...

Celebrating Native American Heritage Month: A Resource Guide

Commonfund, in conjunction with our Native American Heritage Month subcommittee, has created a resource guide to help all of us celebrate the contributions of Native Americans and Indigenous people...

Investment Objectives? Not Always.

The 2021 Council on Foundations—Commonfund Study of Investment of Endowments for Private and Community Foundations® (CCSF) marked our tenth year in collaboration with the Council on Foundations. The...

Seven Promising Practices for the Future of Higher Education

Even before the pandemic, the college/university business model was under scrutiny. With rising tuition costs outpacing living wages, and student debt burdens crippling students, institutions of...

Study of Foundations Key Highlights [Infographic]

For the year ended December 31, 2021, participating private foundations reported an average return of 16.3 percent while participating community foundations reported an average return of 14.8 percent...

2021 Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study of Foundations Released

Security of Foundations’ Missions Strengthened by Good Investment Returns in 2021, National Study Reports

HEPI Forecast Hits 5 Percent: Three Components to Watch

The current inflationary environment is not something we’ve seen since the 1980s. For higher education institutions who rely on inflation data to accurately budget and plan for the next year,...

21st CASE Commonfund College and University Foundation Award

Since 2001, the CASE Commonfund College and University Foundation Award has recognized individuals who have contributed to the advancement of the college and university foundation field.

In Remembrance: Laurance (Laurie) R. Hoagland, Jr.

The Commonfund community was saddened to learn of the recent passing of Laurie Hoagland. Laurie served as a member of the Commonfund Board from 2000-2012 and was Board Chair from 2010-2012.

The Great Reset: The Emerging Age of Re-imagination, Reconnection and Renewal – and Generation RE

A great reset is now upon us. Less obvious is the reality that the world was quietly being reset prior to the pandemic. The rules of business were being rewritten by an extraordinary cadre of...

10 Key Takeaways from Commonfund Forum 2022

Commonfund recently hosted its 24th annual Commonfund Forum in Orlando, Florida. The event brought together 200+ institutional investors from the U.S., the Virgin Islands, and Canada in a 2.5 day...

Viewpoint: The Move in Marketable Alternative Strategies

In the 2021 Commonfund Benchmarks Study® of Independent schools we continue to see the allocation to marketable alternative strategies decline, raising questions about why and whether it will...

Forum 2022 Key Statistics [Infographic]

Commonfund recently hosted its 24th annual Commonfund Forum, March 16-18th, in Orlando, Florida. The event brought together institutional investors to engage in a three-day conference to explore...

Viewpoint: The Short and Long of It

There’s a lot to consider in each annual Commonfund Benchmarks Study® of Independent Schools, e.g., asset allocation, spending, gifts and donations, responsible investing and more. This year is no...

Commonfund Perspective on the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Key Takeaways As widely anticipated, Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday, February 24th, causing volatility to spike across the capital markets globally. By the closing bell in the U.S., however,...

Independent Schools Report Highest Return on Endowment Assets since 2005

Return Bolsters Long-Term Performance; Schools Draw More from Endowment WILTON, Conn., February 22, 2022 — Institutions participating in the Commonfund Benchmarks Study® of Independent Schools for...

Celebrating and Honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On January 17, 2022, the nation will celebrate the legacy and leadership of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King—a graduate of Morehouse College—was a Baptist minister, a peace seeking civil...

Commonfund Institute Launches Educational Platform: Commonfund Institute Online

Platform to initially feature a virtual program on the six principles of investment stewardship WILTON, CT, January 12, 2022 - Commonfund Institute today announced the launch of its virtual learning...

Commonfund Asset Management Announces Organization Changes

As a leading Outsourced CIO firm serving nonprofit organizations, we consistently re-evaluate our organization and processes looking for opportunities to improve how we work and serve our clients. To...

In Remembrance: Verne O. Sedlacek

A Gentle Giant The Commonfund community was shocked and saddened this week by the news of the sudden passing of our former President and CEO, Verne Sedlacek at the age of 67.

Ten Tips for Successful Meetings

On November 9, 2021, Commonfund Institute held its first virtual Investment Stewardship Academy session since the program began nearly 30 years ago. The course focused on committee decision-making...

A Message from our CEO - Advancing DEI at Commonfund

Commonfund Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Report - A Message from our CEO For the past two years, we have been living in a digital world of Zoom, MS Teams, WebEx and other video formats. It has...

Commonfund Publishes Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Report

WILTON, CT (November 3, 2021) – Commonfund, a prominent investment manager for institutional investors, today announced the publication of its inaugural Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Report (“DEI...

The Price of Liquidity - Commonfund Coffee Talk

The Price of Liquidity for Perpetual Investors Our third and final Coffee Talk focused on the most important and impactful decision endowments and foundations can make within their strategic asset...

Asset Allocation and Risk - Commonfund Coffee Talk

ASSET ALLOCATION AND RISK | LOOKING BEYOND VOLATILITY Our second Coffee Talk focused on asset allocation and risk, and the key factors and inputs that maximize the likelihood of achieving...

Good Governance in a Crisis - Commonfund Coffee Talk

Good Governance as the Guardrails in a Crisis | What Does It Look Like for Nonprofits? Our first Coffee Talk webinar focused on good governance practices as key to surviving a crisis and thriving in...

Commonfund’s Fourth Annual Investment Sentiment Survey

Institutional Investors Continue to Increase Allocations to Private Strategies. Commonfund’s Fourth Annual Investment Sentiment Survey shows trends continue despite the pandemic and recession in...

Viewpoint | The Climate for Responsible Investing is Changing

Climate change is a source of concern around the world—from environmental scientists to government policymakers to ordinary citizens. In a more figurative sense, the climate for responsible investing...

Viewpoint | Diverse Managers

The inclusion of diverse managers in institutional portfolios offers access to a broader array of investment talent. Data indicate that foundations are beginning to recognize and act on this...

The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota:  A Pioneer for 38 Years and Counting

If a pioneer is the first to open new ways of thought and action, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota (WFMN) fits the definition perfectly. Founded in 1983, WFMN became the first statewide women’s...

Highlights from the 2020 Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study of Foundations

In a recent webinar, Commonfund Institute and the Council on Foundations reviewed the highlights from the 2020 Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study of Foundations. Featuring speaker Kristen Scott...

Commonfund Celebrates 50 Years of Service

On July 1st, 1971, The Common Fund for Nonprofit Organizations commenced operations with a $2.8 million grant from the Ford Foundation under the leadership of President George Keane and the Board of...

Fiscal Year-End and Mid-Year 2021 Market and Investment Review

The new fiscal year beginning July 1st will mark Commonfund’s fifty-year anniversary – and what a memorable year it has been. As we write this letter, we are hopeful that the new year will bring...

Endowment Management and the Three Primary Responsibilities of a Board

The fourth blog in the “Six Ps of Investment Stewardship” series addresses People, specifically how boards function within an organization. To learn more about the first four principles in the series...

How to Invest in Diverse Managers

A U.S. capitalist system where approximately one percent of all capital is managed by women and people of color, who make up 70 percent of the population, perpetuates and increases inequality and...

In Memoriam: George F. Keane

George F. Keane, 91, of 7408 Eaton Court, Sarasota, FL, founder of The Common Fund, and noted philanthropic investment strategist, passed away Thursday, May 20, 2021, peacefully in the Spring Meadows...

CASE Commonfund College and University Foundation Award 20th Anniversary

For the past 20 years, the CASE Commonfund College and University Foundation Award has recognized individuals who have contributed to the advancement of the college and university foundation field.

The CASE Commonfund College and University Foundation Award | Twenty Years of Celebrating Leadership

CASE Online Conference | General Session | March 30-31, 2021 Commonfund Institute Executive Director, George Suttles, joined past CASE Commonfund award recipients in a discussion celebrating twenty...

Commonfund Award Presentation and Leadership Discussion

Commonfund has been a partner and supporter of CASE for the past several decades. Our aligned missions of serving educational institutions and enhancing resources for ongoing financial success are...

Commonfund Trustee, Dr. David A. Thomas, Wins 62nd Annual HBR McKinsey Award

Commonfund's Trustee, Dr. David A. Thomas, wins the 62nd Annual HBR McKinsey Award, for co-authoring the article titled "Getting Serious About Diversity: Enough Already with the Business Case." The...

How Your Organization Can Nurture Innovation While Balancing Risk

The theme for Commonfund Forum 2021 was “Transformation.” The objective of the agenda was to deliver timely, useful content on core subjects related to nonprofit endowment and financial management...

Fareed Zakaria Dissects the Challenges Shaping the Post-Pandemic World

The theme for Commonfund Forum 2021 was “Transformation.” The objective of the agenda was to deliver timely, useful content on core subjects related to nonprofit endowment and financial management...

Spending at Independent Schools Impacted by COVID-19

The effects of COVID-19 have been felt across the entire nonprofit sector and the independent schools’ community is no different. For the Commonfund Benchmarks Study® of Independent Schools (CSIS)...

Commonfund Survey Finds Nonprofit Investors Cautious, but Confident

Nonprofit Investors Cautious About Stock Market in 2021, but Confident in Long-Term Prospects, Commonfund Survey Finds More than 75 Percent of Endowments and Foundations are Optimistic About...

Managing Financial Challenges During Crisis – A Checklist for Higher Education

Many educational institutions are facing unpredictable financial challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Costs associated with implementing technologies for virtual learning, decreased...

A Fireside Chat with Darren Walker | From Generosity to Justice

Forum 2021 keynote speaker and Ford Foundation President, Darren Walker, shares his bold vision for the future of philanthropy. Since his arrival in 2013, Mr. Walker has transformed the venerable...

Infinite Challenges, Endless Opportunities, Finite Resources

Board members, trustees and others that have oversight of endowed portfolios have well-documented fiduciary duties that govern how they carry out those responsibilities. In times of relative calm,...

Promoting Gender Equity in Leadership Roles

Dr. Kellie A. McElhaney is on faculty as a Distinguished Teaching Fellow and the Founding Director of the Center for Equity, Gender and Inclusion (EGAL) at the Haas School of Business at the...

Viewpoint | Why are Gifts to Endowments Declining?

For the third straight year, Commonfund Benchmarks Study® of Independent Schools (CSIS) participants reported average new gifts to endowment declined, this year falling to an average of $1.2 million...

From Generosity to Justice | Observations from the President of Ford Foundation

The theme for Commonfund Forum 2021 was “Transformation.” The objective of the agenda was to deliver timely, useful content on core subjects related to nonprofit endowment and financial management...

Viewpoint | The Ever-Evolving 80/20

On average over the past decade, independent schools participating in the Commonfund Benchmarks Study® of Independent Schools have maintained an asset allocation that stays within a few percentage...

Exploring Foundations’ Response to COVID-19

Earlier in February at the 2021 Yale Philanthropy Conference, our own George Suttles, Executive Director of Commonfund Institute hosted a panel which included Tim Yates, President and CEO of...

2020 Commonfund Benchmarks Study® of Independent Schools Released

Independent Schools Report 2.8% Return on Endowment Assets for FY2020—Lowest Since 2016 Longer-term Returns Ease; Spending in Support of Mission Holds Steady WILTON, Conn., February 17, 2021 —...

2021 Private Markets Investor Sentiment Survey

Institutional investors continue to increase allocations to private strategies. Commonfund Capital’s fourth annual private markets investor sentiment survey shows trends continue despite the pandemic...

Board of Trustees and Investment Committee Roles and Responsibilities

There are fundamental principles of effective endowment management that we have organized into what we call “the 6 Ps of Investment Stewardship”– Purpose, Policy, Process, Portfolio, People and...

Investment Governance | Are You Asking These Three Questions?

In the midst of a global pandemic, many non-profit business models are being challenged which has put significant pressures on staff, governing boards and committees. These pressures on time and...

Foundation Spending Strategy – Meeting the Moment in 2020 and Beyond

This year has been incredibly difficult. One of the most contentious and turbulent presidential elections and transitions in American History. COVID-19 and the consequential social and economic...

Implications of Increased Spending for Foundations

In this Commonfund Xchange, Commonfund Institute Executive Director, George Suttles, moderated a discussion with two leading practitioners: Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation Chief Finance and...

George Suttles Named Executive Director of the Commonfund Institute — Commonfund Associate Director Allison Kaspriske Joins Institute as Director

WILTON, CT, November 16, 2020 — Commonfund, a prominent investment manager for endowments, foundations and philanthropic organizations, today announced the promotion of George Suttles to Executive...

How to Measure Private Equity Investments

Private capital investors use a particular set of quantitative and qualitative measures to assess performance. While the standard benchmarks used for marketable securities are sometimes applied to...

Top Ten Tips for Better RFPs

A tightly run RFP process can help ensure your organization will find an ideal investment partner to help you fulfill your organization’s mission. As the second installment of our blog series on the...

Top Hedge Fund Investors - Ten Years Later

In July 2010, I published the book Top Hedge Fund Investors: Stories, Strategies, and Advice. My co-author and I interviewed nine leading allocators to hedge funds, including one Mark Anson, who...

Balancing Purpose, Payout, and Permanence: A Strategy Guide for Foundations

In partnership with the Council on Foundations, the National Center for Family Philanthropy has released Balancing Purpose, Payout, and Permanence: A Strategy Guide. Commonfund Institute is very...

Chart of the Month | Inflation Expectations Surge, Driving Real Interest Rates Down

Chairman Powell’s speech at Jackson Hole during the last week of August confirmed the Fed’s dovish policy stance, giving investors ample support in terms of low rates and a flexible inflation...

Commonfund Appoints Terrence Hill, Managing Director, OCIO Business

WILTON, CT (July 30, 2020) — Commonfund, a leading asset manager for nonprofit organizations, today announced the appointment of Terrence (Terry) Hill as Managing Director, Business Development. In...

Capturing Credit Opportunities in Times of Crisis

Key takeaways During periods of dislocation in high-quality credit, investors should stay the course within fixed income portfolios and maintain active risk to benefit from the inevitable rebound...

Chart of the Month | Markets are Running Ahead of Economic Reality

When investors open their second quarter investment reports, many will be shocked by the magnitude of stock market gains in the second quarter. Their surprise could be voiced by a rhetorical question...

Resource Management for College and Universities

William Massy has spent his entire career at the intersection of academia and administration, as a microeconomist; professor, dean and CFO at Stanford University; author; and now, an independent...

Increasing Giving During COVID-19: Thoughts for Philanthropy

The Council on Foundations has acted to support its members, their nonprofit partners, and the people and communities hit hardest by the impacts of COVID-19 by asking members to sign a pledge of...

Five Key Points of the Investment Policy Statement

The central document guiding the management of a nonprofit institution’s endowment—essentially, the strategic plan of the investment committee—is the investment policy statement (IPS). The IPS should...

COVID-19 and Nonprofits | Five Observations from China

Although the full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on U.S. nonprofits will not be known for some time there may be something to learn from what we’re seeing in China. China was the first country to...

Higher Ed in the Age of COVID-19

Commonfund convenes an expert panel to take on the short- and intermediate-term threats that higher education confronts in the face of a national emergency the likes of which have not been seen for...

How Can Trustees Achieve Intergenerational Equity in the Face of Rising Costs?

The Commonfund Higher Education Price Index® (HEPI) is an inflation index for colleges and universities. It has been calculated since 1983 and includes inflation data going back to 1961. Commonfund...

10 Tips for Stewarding People Remotely

Six key words – Purpose, Policy, Process, Portfolio, People, and Perspective – form a framework for effective endowment stewardship. As trustees, investment committee members, and senior management...

Coronavirus: Five Key Questions for Nonprofit Institutions

There is no question that we are in unprecedented times and will likely remain so for longer than we anticipated even a few weeks ago. The speed at which a new reality has been imposed on all of us...

Viewpoint | Responsible Investing Practices: Evolution, Not Resolution

In recent years, responsible investing has received mounting levels of attention from all quarters of the investment management field, from institutional investors large and small to global asset...

Optimize Luck

"Instead of just optimizing for skill, why don’t we optimize for luck? " Optimize Luck originated in a group discussion I facilitated for the Investment Institute, a membership organization for...

2020 Investor Survey: Private Markets Sentiment

For the third year in a row, Commonfund Capital conducted a year-end annual survey of institutional investors to gauge their sentiment about private market investments. Survey responses totaled 267...

Chart of the Month | Election Year Market Trends

As we enter the 12th year of economic expansion since the Great Financial Crisis, investors continue to wonder whether 2020 will be the year when equity markets finally experience a correction....

Three New Members Appointed to Board of Trustees

Commonfund Appoints Three New Members to its Board of Trustees Wilton, CT, December 19, 2019 – Commonfund, a leading asset manager for nonprofit organizations, endowments, foundations and public...

Purpose: What is an Endowment?

A critically important asset for many nonprofit organizations is their endowment, sometimes referred to by a different name such as long-term investment fund. So important is this pool of financial...

Commonfund Forum Goes Global

During the week of October 14th, 2019 Commonfund Institute hosted our first Forum outside of the United States in Tokyo, Japan. We were honored to be joined by many leading Japanese institutional...

Viewpoint: Actions Speak Louder than Data

In this Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study of Foundations viewpoint, it's about analyzing and interpreting the data we've collected. What do they tell us? What trends are emerging? How are...

An Investor’s Private Equity Guide

Commonfund recently hosted a panel discussion focused on the current state of private equity and venture capital, with an emphasis on the investor’s perspective of the industry today. The three...

Recession – Maybe This Time is Different

The July Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC) meeting signaled the end of central bank rate normalization with the first rate cut in more than a decade. The last time the FOMC cut rates was in...

Commonfund Hosts Girls Who Invest at NYC Event

Girls Who Invest (GWI) is an organization focused on bringing more women into the field of asset management, a goal that Commonfund strongly supports. Every year, GWI invites rising juniors into...

The Case for Using the Higher Education Price Index® (HEPI) to Define Inflation for Colleges

When calculating return targets for an endowment portfolio, a conventional piece of the equation is often the Consumer Price Index (CPI). CPI plus 5% is the common short-hand formula for institutions...

Investment Manager Fees Part II: Creating Alignment

In Part I of this blog series, “Investment Manager Fees: Out of Sight, Out of Mind”, we discussed our approach to determining the value of an asset manager and how we might calculate a fair price for...

Nonprofit Hospitals - Big Business in Nonprofit Clothing?

In the last few months, high profile nonprofit institutions have come under intense scrutiny for ethical dilemmas pertaining to the stewardship of resources meant to support mission. This is Part Two...

Summer Reading from the Stewardship Academy Faculty

As the last week of June approaches, investment stewards begin to prepare for summer – a time for relaxing, reflecting, and reading. We asked faculty members from the Investment Stewardship Academy,...

Museums and Cultural Institutions: To Accept or Not to Accept, That Is the Question

In the last few months, high profile nonprofit institutions have come under intense scrutiny for ethical dilemmas pertaining to the stewardship of resources meant to support mission. In a three-part...

Commonfund Forum: A Carbon Neutral Event in 2019

In just two years Commonfund will celebrate its 50th anniversary as a non-profit investment manager for educational endowments, foundations and other tax-exempt investors. Throughout those almost...

Investment Manager Fees: Out of Sight, Out of Mind

One of the most pressing questions facing fiduciaries is that of investment management fees. We think it is a healthy and necessary discussion, as even small fees can have a big impact on performance...

Taking a Fresh Look at Spending Models

Investors have limited control over the returns their portfolios generate. They have more control over their spending. That doesn’t make it easy. Compared to some earlier periods, volatility in the...

Surprising Stewardship Lessons from the Miracle on the Hudson

“When you’ve suffered a complete loss of engine thrust over the largest city in America, you must act quickly and independently to address the developing situation. But, you must also trust in the...

Donor Advised Funds: Changing the Philanthropic Landscape for Higher Education

Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) are the fastest growing giving vehicle in philanthropy. The Council on Foundations defines DAFs as: “A type of charitable giving fund that is established by a donor with an...

Dynamic Workforce = Dynamic Portfolios

The Surprising Outcomes When Diverse Groups and Homogeneous Groups Tackle the Same Problem In late 2018, Commonfund established a Diversity Office with the objective of benefiting from the strengths...

A sit-down with Richard Fisher

As a follow-on to the Commonfund Forum 2019 panel discussion, The Global Economy and the Return of Risk, Richard Fisher, former President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, further...

The Global Economy and the Return of Risk

How to think about tariffs, deficits, valuations, leverage, growth and other issues What signals should institutions be mindful of as they make portfolio decisions in the current environment? A panel...

Majority of Investors Expect Bull Market to End

Nonprofit Investors Anticipate Weakening Consumer Confidence to Cause End of Bull Market, Commonfund Survey Finds Majority of Endowments, Foundations Expect Bull Market to End Within 2 Years Wilton,...

Viewpoint: Looking Back, Moving Forward - A Decade of Insight from CSIS

Fiscal 2009 was an epochal year. In March, the stock market decline wrought by the financial crisis and Great Recession reached its nadir as investors sensed the worst had passed. With the turn in...

2018 Commonfund Benchmarks Study® of Independent Schools (CSIS) Released

Commonfund Study of Independent Schools Reports 7.4% Return on Endowment Assets for FY2018 Investment Result Is Lower Compared to Previous Year, but Long-Term Returns Generally Improve WILTON, CT,...

7 Major Findings - Commonfund Benchmarks Study of Healthcare Organizations

Fifty-six healthcare organizations participated in the 2016–2017 Commonfund Benchmarks Study® of Healthcare Organizations. These organizations reported an average investable asset pool of $2.1...

The Four P’s of Investment Decisions: Lessons from the Commonfund Institute

Three days after becoming Executive Director of the Commonfund Institute, I found myself at Yale University in New Haven giving welcoming remarks at our annual educational program. Although I will...

Commonfund Leadership Changes

Commonfund Appoints Mark Anson Chief Executive Officer Deborah Spalding and Kristofer Kwait appointed Deputy CIOs Wilton, CT, June 7, 2018 – Commonfund, an asset manager for endowments, foundations...

Rust College

Rust College: Where tomorrow’s leaders are students today In the wake of the Civil War, Rust College was founded in 1866 to provide an education for newly-freed slaves. Located in Holly Springs,...

Survey Finds Investors Remain Cautiously Optimistic

Nonprofit Investors Believe Trade Wars and Protectionism Pose Greatest Threat to the Global Economy, Finds Commonfund Survey Endowments, Foundations Remain Cautiously Optimistic on Achieving...

The Lincoln University

Founded in 1854, The Lincoln University is the nation's oldest degree-granting institutions for persons of African descent. Lincoln is committed to maintaining a nurturing and stimulating environment...

Flagler College

Energetic youth in ‘America’s oldest city’. St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement in the continental U.S., having been founded in 1565. Flagler College is...

They dig plants at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas

Hundreds of thousands of plant species are scattered all over the earth, but if the plant world had a headquarters it might be the Fort Worth, Texas home of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas...

University of the Virgin Islands

These Buccaneers pursue a different treasure. There was a time when pirates plied the waters of the Caribbean in the pursuit of gold and other treasure. The Buccaneers mascot of the University of the...

University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

The Sky's No Limit. It doesn't issue public weather forecasts, but it tracks weather around the globe. It isn't the national hurricane center, but it studies hurricanes as well as other extreme...

Western Washington University

Active minds changing lives. Right-sized, well balanced, with an extensive range of strong academic programs and some enlightening stats that speak to all of it: Western Washington University (WWU)...

Investing in Diversity

At Commonfund, we scour the globe to find investment managers that we believe have the ability to consistently produce excess returns (alpha) over and beyond their benchmark. But alpha alone is not...

Viewpoint: Being Objective

Every year, the NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments® (NCSE) reports new data—on investment returns, asset allocation, risk management, donations and gifts, and much more. But some data points are...

Despite Strong FY2017, Endowments Report Decline in Ten-Year Return

Despite 12.2 percent return for FY2017, educational endowments report a decline in their 10-Year return while large institutions lead increase in effective spending rate Data gathered from 809 U.S....

When Leaks Turn into Floods: Challenges Facing Higher Education

2017’s tax legislation is the latest in a growing list of challenges facing higher education. The new excise taxes on endowment earnings of the largest private universities, coupled with the...

Nonprofit Board Governance Best Practices

Since our founding in 1971, a core element of the Commonfund mission has been to provide insights on a broad range of governance, policy and investment challenges. An engaged governing board is...

Tax Reform: CPI Plus More

It was another taxing weekend (literally) at Commonfund as we digested 1,097 pages of the conference agreement for the tax reform bill (the “Tax Act”) and its implications for our country and for the...

The Tax Man Cometh (And Not Just for the Ivies)

UPDATE: Since this blog was published there have been further developments related to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Please see our post Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: CPI Plus More for our latest thinking. With...

What’s the Difference? Time-Weighted Return vs. Internal Rate of Return

Investors often ask about the difference between time-weighted return (“TWR”) and internal rate of return (“IRR”). In general, TWR is used by the investment industry to measure the performance of...

Northampton Community College Foundation

The dictionary defines a foundation as “an underlying base or support.” Of course, there’s another type of foundation, defined as “funds given for the support of an institution.” Northampton...

On Complacency | Why Risk Management Always Matters

Like nearly everything in the financial markets, risk is cyclical. History repeats itself. The echoes of past crises are always heard in present ones, yet new crises are rarely predicted and not...

Hedge Fund Land: An Expensive Amusement Park?

In a series of articles, we have addressed two recent investment “fatigues” experienced by institutional investors: Active vs. Passive; and Global (ACWI) vs. US benchmarks. In this article, we tackle...

WannaCry? WannaRun, WannaHide! Managing Cybersecurity Risk

Over the last year there has been no shortage of things to keep investors, asset managers, and risk managers concerned. Despite these exogenous shocks most equity markets have continued to shake off...

Active Fee Management: Notes from the Front Lines

Few topics get investors’ attention as much as fees. We wouldn’t be human if we all didn’t want to know, in detail, how much something costs. In the world of investing, fees are an even more...

The Misperception of Illiquid Investments

With many market participants expecting low nominal returns across traditional asset classes in the coming years, the challenge of structuring a portfolio to achieve CPI +5%, or long-term purchasing...

The Absent Superpower

In this Commonfund Forum 2017 Spotlight, geopolitical strategist and author Peter Zeihan examines how the hard rules of geography are eroding the American commitment to free trade; how much of the...

Viewpoint: Counting the Cost

How much does investment management cost? Fiduciaries, donors and stakeholders at endowed institutions have a strong interest in finding a good answer to this question, particularly in this era of...

Long-Term Trends for Long-Term Investors

Nonprofit institutions have the distinct advantage of having the longest time horizon of any investors – often perpetuity. This affords an opportunity to consider investments based on secular trends...

No More Gatekeepers

In this Commonfund Forum Spotlight, founder of DonorsChoose.org Charles Best shares how as a 24-year-old teacher at a Bronx high school, he created a model of giving hailed as "the future of...

Monkeynomics

In this Commonfund Forum 2017 Spotlight, Dr. Laurie Santos demonstrates that primates have much to teach us about our own economic decision-making. Both monkeys and humans know a bargain when they...

Constraints Faced by Healthcare Endowments

As a result of the evolving landscape of the healthcare industry, organizations are increasingly being shaped by pressures affecting both the revenue and expense sides of the income statement. On one...

How Does Board Structure Affect Performance?

The structure of a board has an important influence on its effectiveness, and being cognizant of these matters is essential to improving a board’s performance. In this article, we’ll discuss four...

Fiduciary Responsibility: A Board’s Purpose and Roles

Excellent boards are made, not born. Achieving excellence in board governance requires success in four crucial areas: capable leadership, a sound organizational structure, attention to fiduciary...

Where Did Our Operating Income Go?

Treasury managers face a new challenge to an old problem. Their institutions historically have relied on operating investment income to provide a necessary influx to operating budgets. Prior to 2008,...

Center for Natural Lands Management

These words—to protect, preserve and defend—come from the oath of office sworn by the President of the United States. At the Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM), they refer to an unwritten but...

Viewpoint: A Firmer Foundation

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...

Five Laws that Led to Uniformity in Nonprofit Governance

With each state having its own court system, uniformity among the states did not exist. While there was agreement on basic common-law trust principles, variations still emerged. As the American...

The William Penn Foundation

Fast Philly facts: The city is the site of the first library, hospital, medical school, stock exchange and zoo in the U.S. It’s the only World Heritage City in the U.S. William Penn founded the city...

The Big Picture: Integrating Investments, Finance and Development

Most things function a lot better when all the moving parts work together—nonprofit institutions included. The synergies afforded by collaboration across organizational boundaries may be the most...

The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined

Sal Khan is the founder of the Khan Academy, a nonprofit with the mission of providing free, high-quality education to “anyone, anywhere” in the world. A former hedge fund analyst with degrees from...

Viewpoint: Seven Years On

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...

Impact Investing: Balancing the Best of Responsibility & Opportunity

Impact investing is showing growth around the world. According to the most recent J.P. Morgan/Global Impact Investing Network Impact Investor Survey, the number of institutional investors engaging in...

Viewpoint: Changing Our Minds

It is often said that we live in a world of change, but it is surprising how slowly that change can occur. Seven years after the onset of the Great Recession, many business school students are still...

Multi-Asset Investing: Form Follows Function

The design axiom captures the purpose of multi-asset investing Interest in multi-asset investing is growing and the inflows confirm it: Institutional assets committed to multi-asset investing are...

Smart money, crowded trades?

For investors building multi-manager portfolios, a look at an alternative hedge fund beta. Approaches to stock selection vary widely across the hedge fund universe, even among managers practicing the...

Greenhouse Effect

Investment returns of less well-diversified portfolios have flourished in the accommodative market environment created by central banks. But what will happen when rates rise? In the last five years,...

Working capital: challenge and opportunity

On campus, the thinking about operating asset management is changing with the times. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and Great Recession, liquidity was the primary concern on university...

Viewpoint: A Different Kind of Climate Change

How have cultural, religious and social service institutions’ investment portfolios changed in response to the financial and market environment that has prevailed over the last several years? While...

How Liquid are Private Capital Investments?

In the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, institutional investors were rightfully concerned about the liquidity profiles of their long term portfolios. Although markets have recovered substantially...

6 Keys to Choosing the Right Outsourced CIO

Today, few OCIOs that serve nonprofits are total institutional partners. Six questions can help you find one who takes a holistic approach. Not long ago, the definition and scope of an “Outsourced...

ESG and Your Institution: Doing Well by Doing Good

Investing according to environmental, social and governance principles is maturing into a distinct discipline. Robust research results dispute the conventional wisdom about performance trade-offs. If...

Challenges of Nonprofit Healthcare Organizations and Endowment Management

Facing cost pressures and a new regulatory regime, healthcare organizations — especially those in the small and mid-sized range — should consider adopting the principles of the endowment model....