The US SIF Foundation Releases New Sustainable Investment Guide for Foundations

Report documents current trends in sustainable investing among foundations, provides practical resources 

WASHINGTON, DC- Today the US SIF Foundation released
Unleashing the Potential of US Foundation Endowments:  Using Responsible Investment to Strengthen Endowment Oversight and Enhance Impact.

The report, using extensive data from primary and secondary sources, assesses the current range and state of foundation involvement in sustainable and responsible investing (SRI).  It suggests that the number of foundations engaged in SRI, often employing such terms as mission-related investing and impact investing, has been growing in the last few years. 

The guide encourages foundations to adopt SRI strategies in order to have tools, in addition to grantmaking, with which to generate positive impact and to fulfill their fiduciary duties.  It profiles a number of foundations whose approaches to SRI—including shareholder advocacy at publicly traded companies and investments in vehicles supporting community development, land conservation and other sectors— have resulted in meaningful environmental, social or corporate governance (ESG) outcomes. Another strategy foundations employ is to consider ESG criteria in addition to traditional financial indicators when selecting companies for their portfolios. Many of the foundations profiled in the guide provide background on the process they followed—with staff, trustees and consultants—to develop or update their responsible investing policies and procedures. 

The report concludes with a list of practical steps that foundation staff and trustees can take to help their institutions align a broader portion of their assets with their programmatic or broader institutional goals.   To assist these first steps, an extensive appendix of resources provides links to:

  • ·  organizations offering assistance in sustainable and responsible  investing, including such specialties as impact investing, community investing and shareholder engagement;
  • ·  research papers on SRI and financial performance and on fiduciary duty for foundations; and
  • ·   investment policies, proxy voting guidelines and case studies of several foundations that are active sustainable and responsible investors. 

US SIF Foundation CEO Lisa Woll said: “This guide provides compelling examples of foundations that have made the commitment to utilize their endowments for positive social and environmental impact.  We hope that the information and tools provided in this report will motivate many more foundations to follow their example.”   

The US SIF Foundation is grateful to The J.A. and H.G. Woodruff Charitable Trust, Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation and Goodfunds Wealth Management for their generous support of this report. 


The US SIF Foundation is a 501c3 organization that undertakes educational, research and programmatic activities to advance the mission of US SIF.  The US SIF Foundation offers an online course on the

Fundamentals of Sustainable and Responsible Investmenta resource for investment advisors, financial planners and other financial professionals who want to learn the basics of sustainable and responsible investment. 

US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment is the US membership association for professionals, firms, institutions and organizations engaged in sustainable and responsible investing. US SIF and its members advance investment practices that consider environmental, social and corporate governance criteria to generate long-term competitive financial returns and positive societal impact. US SIF's members include investment management and advisory firms, mutual fund companies, research firms, financial planners and advisors, broker-dealers, banks, credit unions, community development organizations, non-profit associations, and pension funds, foundations and other asset owners. Learn more at

Contact: Megan Smith,, 202-747-7820