Foundations encouraged to vote proxies

A new toolkit for private foundations examines top shareholder issues and provides research and resources for this year’s proxy-voting season.

Political donations, global warming, sexual-orientation discrimination and executive compensation are hot-button issues for shareholders, says a report in “Proxy Season Preview 2008.”

The proxy-voting guide, assembled by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and As You Sow, a corporate-social-responsibility advocate, also shows sharp growth in shareholders’ concern for health-care reform and human-rights issues.

“An increasing number of foundations are examining the role of their endowments in relation to their missions,” Michael Passoff, associate director of As You Sow’s corporate social responsibility program and author of the report, says in a statement.

“However, most foundations pay more attention to the 5 percent of their endowments that is granted out rather than to the power that lies in the 95 percent that is invested,” he says.  “Proxy voting is a basic first step in aligning investments and mission.”

In addition to top 2008 proxy issues and trends, the report includes analysis of specific social and governance resolutions, as well as vote outcomes from recent years.

It also highlights key investors and organizations that are filing resolutions and lists companies with votes scheduled.

The report serves as a companion to a previous introductory publication to proxy voting for foundations, “Unlocking the Power of the Proxy.”

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