Posts by Commonfund Institute

Governance And Policy | Articles

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...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

Asset Allocation: Controlling for the Variables

Our 2021 Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study of Foundations marked our 10th year in collaboration with Council on Foundations and the Commonfund Institute to measure, analyze and document the...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

Research Shows 10-Year Returns for Foundations Reach Highest Point

Our 2021 Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study of Foundations marked our 10th year in collaboration with Council on Foundations and the Commonfund Institute to measure, analyze and document the...
Perspectives | Insights Blog

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...
Perspectives | Press Releases

2021 Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study of Foundations Released

Security of Foundations’ Missions Strengthened by Good Investment Returns in 2021, National Study Reports
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

Key Governance Factors for Higher Education Prove to Be Quantifiable

A board self-assessment is one of the most commonly used tools to evaluate how effectively a board performs. The purpose of a board self-assessment is to help board members analyze their present and...
Perspectives | Insights Blog

Relax with a Good Book this Summer!

Commonfund Institute is excited to release our latest picks of best summer 2022 reads. Whether you are taking a vacation or stay-cation, these selections are perfect for packing wherever your plans...
Diversity | Insights Blog

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.
Investment Strategy | Press Releases

Commonfund Survey Finds Institutional Investors Increasingly Cautious Amid Heightened Economic Risks

Institutional investors representing $170 billion in total assets cite inflation and geopolitical tensions as top economic concerns for 2022 Majority of investors expect lower-than-average U.S. stock...
Investment Strategy | Articles

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...
Perspectives | Insights Blog

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...
Investment Strategy | Articles

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...
Perspectives | Insights Blog

Study of Independent Schools - Key Highlights [Infographic]

For fiscal year 2021, independent schools reported an average return (net of fees) on their endowment assets of 25.8 percent. In this infographic, we report the key highlights from the 2021...
Perspectives | Press Releases

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...
Governance And Policy | Press Releases

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...
Perspectives | Press Releases

2021 HEPI Report Released

Inflation for U.S. higher education institutions rises 2.7% in fiscal 2021; rate is up from last year’s 1.9% but level with 5-year average WILTON, CT, December 15, 2021 – Data from the annual...
Perspectives | Insights Blog

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...
Responsible Investing | Articles

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...
Diversity | Insights Blog

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...
Perspectives | Videos

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...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

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...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

Constructing Investment Portfolios for Endowments

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...
Private Equity | Articles

Venture Investing: Insights into China’s Dynamic Healthcare Industry

Seeking growth and diversification, institutional investors have long included emerging markets exposure in their portfolios. The agenda for Commonfund Forum 2021 included a session dedicated to...
Diversity | Insights Blog

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.
Diversity | Videos

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...
Diversity | Videos

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...
Perspectives | Insights Blog

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...
Perspectives | Insights Blog

Forum 2021 Key Statistics [Infographic]

We recently hosted our first virtual Commonfund Forum. The event brought together institutional investors and faculty members from around the globe to engage in a two-day conference. Commonfund Forum...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

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...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

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...
Governance And Policy | Articles

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...
Governance And Policy | Videos

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...
Perspectives | Press Releases

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 —...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

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...
Perspectives | Press Releases

2020 HEPI Report Released

Inflation for U.S. Higher Education Institutions rises 1.9% in fiscal 2020, lowest since 2016. WILTON, CT, December 28, 2020 — Data from the annual Commonfund Higher Education Price Index® (HEPI)...
Governance And Policy | Articles

Viewpoint | Meeting the Moment

Some foundations have responded to the call of mission by increasing spending in response to exceptional needs created by COVID-19. But there is a trade-off: the potential erosion of endowment value...
Investment Strategy | Insights Blog

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...
Governance And Policy | Articles

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...
Investment Strategy | Videos

Enhancing Investment Stewardship with Fund Governance Analytics

Strong board performance is critical for every organization dedicated to achieving its mission, which is why Commonfund Institute makes it our mission to advance best investment stewardship...
Investment Strategy | Articles

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...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

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...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

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...
Responsible Investing | Articles

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...
Perspectives | Press Releases

2019 Commonfund Benchmarks Study® of Independent Schools Released

Independent Schools Report 5.7% Return on Endowment Assets for FY2019 Investment Results Are Lower than Previous 2 Years but at Mid-Point of 5-Year Returns; 10-Year Returns Show Sharp Increase...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

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...
Perspectives | Articles

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...
Investment Strategy | Insights Blog

Looking at Gender Lens Investing

What is Gender Lens Investing? Gender lens investing has garnered significant traction in the last decade. Broadly speaking, it aims to achieve financial returns and benefit women.  Given the breadth...
Perspectives | Insights Blog

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,...
Perspectives | Insights Blog

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...
Perspectives | Articles

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...
Perspectives | Press Releases

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,...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

What’s in the Data? HEPI 2018 Highlights

Commonfund Higher Education Price Index (HEPI) data show that inflation for colleges and universities was 2.8 percent for fiscal year 2018, a decline from last year’s 3.3 percent but higher than the...
Governance And Policy | Articles

Viewpoint: The Long of It

Endowments, like the organizations they support, are generally intended to operate in perpetuity. To accomplish this goal, those responsible for endowments—trustees or directors—make decisions based...
Perspectives | Insights Blog

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...
Governance And Policy | Articles

Viewpoint: The Gift of (Relative) Calm

The calamities known as the financial crisis and Great Recession are now a decade in the past. But far from fading into history, the memories remain fresh. And we are reminded of those days regularly...
Responsible Investing | Insights Blog

Viewpoint: Responsible Investing - Read All About It

The new and newsworthy in this year’s Council on Foundations–Commonfund Study of Investment of Endowments for Private and Community Foundations® (CCSF) is headlined by responsible investing. No other...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

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...
Responsible Investing | Insights Blog

What are the Differences Between SRI and ESG?

The Challenges of Terminology There are a great many terms referring in some way to practices related to responsible investing: socially responsible investing; mission-related investing; impact...
Responsible Investing | Articles

Diversity and Emerging Managers

The benefits of diversity are widely recognized in the work place and among educational institutions and other nonprofits. Yet, the concept of investment management firms that are minority owned and...
Responsible Investing | Articles

Should Investors Be Concerned with ESG Investing

The subject of ESG, or investing in accord with environmental, social and governance principles, arose in several sessions at Commonfund Forum 2018. One session, in particular, was devoted to the...
Governance And Policy | Articles

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...
Perspectives | Insights Blog

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....
Governance And Policy | Articles

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...
Outsourced Cio | Insights Blog

A Primer on Outsourced Investment Management

Once seen primarily as a solution for small institutions with limited resources, outsourcing of the investment management function is now widespread, with a broad range of long-term investors –...
Responsible Investing | Articles

Viewpoint: Responsible Investing for Foundations

Introduction In recent years, growing attention has been paid to the use by endowed institutions of so-called responsible investing practices. The three main practices — environmental, social and...
Governance And Policy | Articles

Not So Free: Implications of New York’s Excelsior Scholarships

Key Insights While opening opportunity to many New York families, the recently enacted Excelsior Scholarship Program will likely stress the financial resources of small private colleges and...
Perspectives | Articles

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...
Perspectives | Insights Blog

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...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

Does Your Investment Policy Statement Account for Risk?

Successful investing for long-term funds requires a strategic plan. This is true despite – indeed, because of – the fact that the future is unknowable. The plan must be specific, embodying in...
Investment Strategy | Insights Blog

Healthcare Endowment Management: 3 Questions to Consider

Mounting cost pressures are forcing small and mid-sized nonprofit healthcare organizations to consider adopting endowment management practices similar to those used elsewhere in the nonprofit sector....
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

Drafting Your Investment Policy Statement: 10 Critical Issues

Endowed institutions differ in their missions, capabilities and resources, and investment policy statements naturally mirror these differences.  In that sense, there is no single ‘right’ investment...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

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...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

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...
Governance And Policy | Articles

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...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

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...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

A Framework for Nonprofit Governance

Two important laws enacted in the last 15 years have had an impact far beyond the intent of their original authors, causing major, if little-noticed, changes in nonprofit governance. The...
Investment Strategy | Insights Blog

Integration of ESG Factors in Practical Steps

In the current climate of slow global economic growth and resource constraints at many institutions, integration of ESG considerations in an organization’s investment portfolio may be perceived as a...
Responsible Investing | Insights Blog

Responsible Investing for Foundations

Commonfund and the 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...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

Common Concerns about Responsible Investing

Discussions about whether responsible investing strategies help or hurt investment performance are complicated by the fact that, there are several broad categories of responsible investing practice...
Outsourced Cio | Insights Blog

Deciding on an OCIO Provider: Three Factors to Consider

There are three main factors an institution will need to weigh in deciding if working with an OCIO provider is right for them. Those are: Degree of Discretion: What role do the institution’s board...
Responsible Investing | Insights Blog

Responsible Investing: Terminology and Background

The terms socially-responsible investing (SRI), mission-related investing, impact investing and environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing – all frequently grouped under the heading of...
Investment Strategy | Insights Blog

What is an OCIO?

Outsourced investment management, once primarily a solution for small institutions with limited resources, is now used by a broad range of long-term investors. When properly implemented, outsourcing...
Perspectives | Articles

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...
Responsible Investing | Insights Blog

Sample Policy Rider for Responsible Investing

A number of clients and prospects have asked how their Investment Policy Statement (IPS) can be amended to accommodate responsible investing strategies. In response, we have prepared a rider which...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

New Environmental Regulations and the Impact on Fiduciaries

Developments in world financial markets seem to occur more quickly every year, requiring ever-higher levels of expertise and experience on the part of investment committees. Climate change is a more...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

Calculating Investment Management Costs

The following methodology may be of use in helping you to understand more fully what your organization pays for investment management costs. Identify the fees you pay at the overall portfolio level...
Outsourced Cio | Insights Blog

5 Things to Consider When Choosing an OCIO

Nearly all CFOs and investment committees consider it. And more than ever are acting upon it: investigating the possibility of an Outsourced CIO (OCIO) to manage their institution’s investments. The...
Governance And Policy | Articles

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...
Outsourced Cio | Articles

Of Apples, Oranges and Onions: Assessing OCIO Performance and Fees

Nearly all CFOs and investment committees consider it. And more than ever are acting upon it: investigating the possibility of an Outsourced CIO (OCIO) to manage their institution’s investments. When...
Risk Management | Articles

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,...
Investment Strategy | Articles

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...
Investment Strategy | Articles

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....