Governance And Policy | Press Releases

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...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

A Financial Framework for the COVID Crisis

Despite the fall semester looking much better than the worst-case scenarios contemplated in early summer, higher education in America continues to grapple with the enormous challenges that the...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

The Key Endowment Questions for Challenging Times

During this time of unprecedented challenges, the financial health of colleges and universities is a critical concern. Boards, investment committees, institutional leaders, and their advisors must...
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...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

Should We Issue an Investment Manager RFP? 7 Key Considerations

Best practice for nonprofits is to issue a Request for Proposal (“RFP”) for an investment management partner every market cycle. Typically, that is at least every 7 to 10 years, or as it is...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

Observations on Diverse Manager Selection Across Asset Classes

At Commonfund, we believe diverse managers offer clients access to investment talent and valuable investment opportunities and therefore should be explored and invested in. Overlooking the merits of...
Governance And Policy | White Papers

Principles of Investment Stewardship for Nonprofit Organizations

The Principles of Investment Stewardship for Nonprofit Organizations provides an overview of essential principles for fiduciaries that oversee long-term funds.
Governance And Policy | Videos

Cultural Institutions and the COVID-19 Crisis

Board members, investment committees, and senior staff are charged with the fiduciary responsibility to make informed decisions when guiding the investment activities of their organization. The...
Governance And Policy | Articles

Changing the Conversation on College and University Resources

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...
Governance And Policy | Press Releases

AGB and Commonfund Announce New Strategic Partnership

Enhancements to resources for investment management come at critical time for endowments WASHINGTON, DC, June 4, 2020 — The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB), the...
Governance And Policy | Videos

Stewarding Foundations Through the COVID-19 Crisis

The COVID-19 crisis has put tremendous strain on local communities across the country and foundations have been asked to rise to the challenge while endowments have declined in value due to market...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

Stewardship During This Crisis: Five Things for Boards to Consider

As the world continues to grapple with the social, economic, and public health implications of the current COVID-19 crisis, nonprofit organizations and their boards are working tirelessly to...
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 | Articles

Intergenerational Equity and Sustainable Investing

Intergenerational equity was defined by economist James Tobin in 1974. He wrote, “The trustees of endowed institutions are the guardians of the future against the claims of the present. Their task in...
Governance And Policy | Videos

CARES Act | Implications and Opportunities for Nonprofits

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”), establishing the largest aid package in our nation’s history. The $2...
Governance And Policy | Articles

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...
Governance And Policy | Videos

Higher Ed in the Age of COVID-19 - A Panel Discussion

With COVID-19 exploding every expectation of normalcy in U.S. higher education, Commonfund convened a panel of experts to identify, analyze and offer potential responses to the critical challenges...
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...
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...
Governance And Policy | Articles

Outsourcing: Writing Your RFP

Once an institution decides to pursue the outsourced CIO or investment office option, it usually leads to the creation of a request for proposal, or RFP.  Considering that the outsourced model is a...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

Traits of High-performing Boards … and Steps Toward Becoming One

Tom Hyatt is a partner in the Washington. D.C. law firm of Dentons US LLP and an authority on nonprofit governance. This blog is excerpted from a presentation he made recently at the Commonfund...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

Back to Basics: The ABCs of Governance

Tom Hyatt is a partner in the Washington. D.C. law firm of Dentons US LLP and an authority on nonprofit governance. This blog is excerpted from a presentation he made recently at the Commonfund...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

The 5 Top Stewardship Imperatives

Christopher K. Merker, PhD, CFA, is a financial advisor and director of Private Asset Management at Robert W. Baird & Co. and an adjunct professor at Marquette University. He is also the co-author of...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

Higher Education: Philanthropy is an Adjunct, Sensible Public Policy Deserves Tenure

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...
Governance And Policy | Reports And Surveys

Commonfund Benchmarks Study - Independent Schools

The Commonfund Benchmarks Study® of Independent Schools. Commonfund conducts the annual study of independent school endowment management practices and policies in conjunction with the National...
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 | Videos

Commonfund Partner Spotlight | Widener University

Commonfund Managing Director and Head of Strategic Solutions, Tim Yates, interviews Dr. Julie Wollman, President of Widener University. In this wide-ranging discussion Dr. Wollman describes how...
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...
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...
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...
Governance And Policy | White Papers

Legislating the Normative Environment

Regulation of nonprofit investment and governance practices has migrated from traditional common-law principles to codified statutory law, affecting areas of nonprofit governance not addressed in the...
Governance And Policy | White Papers

Building and Maintaining an Excellent Board

How well a board functions determines the fortunes of the organization it governs. Mediocre performance may enable an organization to survive, while weak or dysfunctional boards may jeopardize their...
Governance And Policy | White Papers

Assessing the State of Healthcare

Nonprofit healthcare organizations are confronting a series of challenges as they strive to maintain positive operating margins in the face of declining reimbursement from insurance companies and...
Governance And Policy | Reports And Surveys

Commonfund Benchmarks Study - Healthcare 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.
Governance And Policy | Reports And Surveys

COF - Commonfund Study of Foundations

The Council on Foundation - Commonfund (CCSF) Study provides an authoritative and comprehensive survey of private and community foundation investment and governance practices.
Outsourced Cio | White Papers

Commonfund's Guide to Outsourcing

With limited time during the year, maximizing effectiveness is key for your committee. Many nonprofit investors are pursuing outsourcing their CIO to a fiduciary partner who can dedicate 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...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

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...
Governance And Policy | Articles

Governance Best Practices: How Does Your Board Measure Up?

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...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

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...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

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....
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

Spending Policy: Is Yours Ready for the Next Downturn?

In most Investment Policy Statements there is often a reference to two important, but conflicting, objectives: one, to preserve the purchasing power of the long-term portfolio in real terms, and two,...
Governance And Policy | Reports And Surveys

Commonfund Higher Education Price Index (HEPI)

The annual Commonfund Higher Education Price Index (HEPI) report provides an analysis of HEPI and the cost factors associated with the index.
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

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...
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...
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...
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 | Insights Blog

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,...
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...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

Bridging the Gap: Carbon and Fiduciary Responsibility

Most institutional investor discussions and actions regarding global warming have been at two ends of the spectrum: either divest from fossil fuels entirely or remain fully invested. A better...
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...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

Operating Charity Implements a Risk-Based Investment Policy

An operating charity in the Northeast is in the process of implementing a risk-based investment policy for its $30 million endowment. The organization’s seven-member Investment Committee includes...
Governance And Policy | Articles

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...
Governance And Policy | 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...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

Is Currency an Asset Class?

Currency risk can best be described as the surprise impact that currency exposure has on an investment portfolio. Although currency risk typically confounds investors, it is easy to measure – it is...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

Six Key Questions To Ask OCIO Providers

“Outsourced CIO” (or OCIO) is a term that might not be familiar to many. In the past it has been defined as a traditional consulting model in which the process of interviewing potential investment...
Governance And Policy | Articles

Top Five Questions of Nonprofit Fiduciaries

The turbulent start to the New Year has led governing boards, investment committees and staff to question what’s next for the markets and what they should do about it.  Below are the top five...
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...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

Impact Investing

Recently, Commonfund convened an expert panel of investment managers to hold  a roundtable discussion and take a closer look at the different impact investing strategies being implemented today. 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...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

ESG: What is it?

Generally speaking, Environmental Social and Governance, or ESG for short, is used to describe a group of characteristics that can have a material impact on the long-term success of a company and,...
Governance And Policy | Articles

Evolving Challenges in Nonprofit Governance

Commonfund recently convened an expert panel moderated by Myra Drucker (standing, left), Chair of the Board, TrustedPeer Inc. and former chair of the Commonfund Board of Trustees. The roundtable...
Governance And Policy | Insights Blog

10 Point Checklist to Get Governance Right

The regulatory and legislative landscape continues to become more rigorous for nonprofit organizations. In an atmosphere of increasing calls for accountability, boards and senior staff need to take...
Governance And Policy | Articles

10-Point Checklist: Get Governance Right

Follow this checklist and you'll be on your way…  For nonprofit organizations of all kinds, the regulatory and legislative landscape continues to become more rigorous—which should not come as a...
Governance And Policy | Articles

Long-Term Care

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....