Our Goal

We want to encourage and enable endowed charitable foundations to become impact investing asset owners and drive more endowment capital to impact focused outcomes.

What we are doing to achieve it

The largest 300 endowed charitable foundations in the UK have over £72 billion in total assets – the bulk of this is invested in mainstream capital markets without impact considerations. A number of pioneers are seeking to deliver impact via the choice of investments in their endowments as well as through grant-making. 

However, ongoing perceptions that impact investing means concessionary returns, is expensive and complex to deliver and lacks suitable choice have deterred wider adoption.  

In partnership with the charitable foundation sector, we are seeking to change that and motivate more foundations to increase the volume of charitable endowment assets invested for positive social and environmental impact as well as financial return. 

Working with leading sector lawyers we have produced a legal paper that comprehensively demonstrates the compatibility of impact investing with trustees’ fiduciary duty.  

We have developed a practical how-to guide on stepping into impact investing to encourage foundations to deploy impact investing strategies and allocate more capital to impact.  

We are working with multiple stakeholders across the endowments sector – including membership bodies and associations, endowed charities, asset managers and legal experts – to showcase the opportunities offered by impact investing and debunk common myths about impact investing.  

Impact investing presentation for charitable foundations

To help facilitate conversations about impact investing within charitable foundations, we have created a downloadable presentation which provides an introduction to impact investing, busts prevalent myths, highlights key arguments in favour of the approach and provides steps on how to get started, all supported by detailed speaker notes.

To download the presentation, please fill out the form below.

Download presentation: Impact Investing in the Endowment

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Investing with impact in the endowment

Our paper, “Investing with impact in the endowment: Why do it and how to get started”, is a practical guide designed to help foundation leaders and the constellation of professionals that surround them to make their first moves into impact investing. With support from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, and working in partnership with other key players in the sector, we aim to increase the volume of charitable endowment assets invested for positive social and environmental impact as well as financial return.

Read the guide here

Can Charities Invest their Endowment with impact?

In this paper, we explain why we think charity trustees should feel confident in concluding that, in the round, both from a “mission lens” and a “financial lens”, impact investing is an approach which can most effectively advance the objects, mission, and work of the charity as a whole.

Read the paper here

Endowments Expert Panel

This work is supported by our Endowments Expert Panel who provide the Institute with expert advice to help us achieve our aim of making it easier for endowments to invest with impact. We are very grateful for the participation of the following panel members: 

  • Caroline Mason – CEO, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation 
  • Kieron Boyle – CEO, Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation  
  • Barnaby Weiner – CEO and Founder, Treebeard Trust  
  • Colin Baines – Investment Engagement Manager, Friends Provident Foundation  

If you would like to know more about how the Institute works with panels, please click here

Project Funders

We are very grateful to our funders for their support for this work.

If you are interested in supporting the work of the Institute or learn more about us, please get in touch.

Relationships Coordinator

Case studies

Founded in 1961, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation is one of the UK’s largest independent grant-making organisations, with an endowment of £1.172bn a typical active portfolio of over 900 grants and a £45 million social investment fund. It has three main aims: improve our natural world, secure a fairer future and nurture creative, confident communities.

Dame Caroline Mason, chief executive officer, spoke about transitioning the endowment’s investment portfolio towards impact investing.

Ceniarth is a private family office focused on improving livelihoods in marginalised and vulnerable communities globally. Founded in 2013 by Diane Isenberg, Ceniarth manages the assets of the Isenberg Family Charitable Foundation, as well as unrestricted family assets totalling more than $500 million. The firm’s team of twelve is based primarily in London with an additional presence in New York and San Francisco.

Friends Provident Foundation began life as an independent charity endowed by Friends Provident plc in 2004 from unclaimed shares with a mission to support a fair and sustainable economic system that works for all. It has an endowment of £33.5mn.

Colin Baines was appointed as the Foundation’s first Investment Engagement Manager in 2016.

Publications

In 2017, Dame Elizabeth Corley, Chair of the Impact Investing Institute, convened the first meeting of the Taskforce for Growing a Culture of Social Impact Investing in the UK. Since then, the impact investing market has developed significantly – but until now there has not been an estimate of the size of the UK market in its totality. Our report, “Estimating and describing the UK impact investing market”, published in partnership with EY and supported by the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport and Big Society Capital, sets out to change this.

Our paper, “Investing for impact in the endowment: Why do it and how to get started”, is a practical guide designed to help foundation leaders and the constellation of professionals that surround them to make their first moves into impact investing. With support from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, and working in partnership with other key players in the sector, we aim to increase the volume of charitable endowment assets invested for positive social and environmental impact as well as financial return.

In this paper, we explain why we think charity trustees should feel confident in concluding that, in the round, both from a “mission lens” and a “financial lens”, impact investing is an approach which can most effectively advance the objects, mission, and work of the charity as a whole.

News & Views

Fiduciary duty is not incompatible with impact investment – but, unfortunately, this remains a pervasive misconception. Now, with the publication of the judgement in the case of Butler-Sloss v Charity Commission, a decisive step has been taken towards dispelling this myth for good in the £72bn UK charitable foundation sector. 

All war, wherever in the world it takes place, imposes huge costs and suffering, particularly on civilians. At this time, the Impact Investing Institute shares the world’s horror at the events unfolding in Ukraine and the suffering the invasion by Russia’s armed forces has brought to everybody in Ukraine.

The Leadership Council, in partnership with the charity pilotlight, have published a new report, The Great British Talent Swap, calling for a sharing of talent and experience between the charitable and commercial sectors.

Events

The Finance for Impact Summit on Monday, 18 July 2022 will bring together leaders of finance, business, governments and other institutions from around the world to discuss how we can better harness finance for the good of people and the planet. This one-day event will be held in person at Mansion House in London, and streamed live to a global audience.