23rd Mar 2022

Full Circle Food Project, based in Ashington, Northumberland.

The Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland has for the first time set goals for how it will invest its endowment in ways which address environmental and social concerns, while continuing to generate income to support and grow its charitable activities. 

Through the generosity of donors, the Foundation builds its endowment as a community asset to benefit its area now and for generations to come. The endowment is invested to produce as much financial return as possible to fund its grant-making and running costs. 

In 2020, the Foundation’s Board decided to adopt a responsible investment approach aligned with their mission and values. This means considering wider environmental, social and governance issues in investments alongside financial returns. The Foundation consulted with individual and business donors, voluntary organisations and public bodies to help shape its approach. The new policy, approved by the Board in March 2022, sets out the Foundation’s new requirements, which include:  

  • managers appointed to look after the Foundations investments having to be signatories to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment and the Financial Reporting Council’s UK Stewardship Code; 
  • only investing in businesses and funds with high environmental, social and governance standards (for example, around climate change, human rights and diversity); 
  • aligning with the United Nations Paris Agreement and committing to the endowment being net zero by 2050 at the latest; 
  • excluding businesses which generate 10% or more of their revenue from pornography or from tobacco production; or those that produce landmines, cluster munitions, chemical, biological or nuclear weapons; 
  • looking at opportunities to invest in areas directly aligned with the Foundation’s mission and values or which support progress to carbon neutrality. 

The plan is now to transition the Foundation’s investments to meet the new responsible investment objectives over the three-years to March 2025. 

Rob Williamson, CEO of the Community Foundation, said: “The Community Foundation is delighted to join a growing movement of charity investors seeking to invest responsibly. The trustees have listened to our stakeholders and taken expert advice. The new policy aligns our investments more closely with our mission and values meaning that, as a charity, we can do more overall good. But we are no less focused on maximising financial returns so we can continue to back the brilliant work of small, local charities and community organisations in line with the wishes of our donors.” 

The Foundation’s new policy is published on its website: https://www.communityfoundation.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Investment-policy-March-2022.pdf 

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