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Investment scrutiny – $32M endowment moved

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Over the last fifteen years, the Needmor Fund has used socially responsible investing to advance its mission and its endowment at the same time, the New York Times reported June 11.

The Boulder, Colo.-based family foundation began to consider the effects of its investments in 1985. The board was debating the question of how to vote the fund’s shares in the Champion Spark Plug Company, which faced a shareholder resolution about the company’s South African operations. That debate led to a larger question.

“If we really wanted to be responsible in our investments,” chair Sarah Stranahan, whose family started the foundation in 1956, said to the Times, “why single out one stock?”

It took a few years to answer that question, but in 1989 the fund moved part of its portfolio into socially responsible investing. The shift continued, slowly, and as of last year all of the group’s $32 million endowment was in socially screened investments.

Stranahan said that the group has not lost money to principle. In fact, she said, the fund’s investment managers have generally outperformed the stock market.

For full text of the article, go to the New York Times.

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