Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Community Development

Impact Investing for Small, Place-Based Fiduciaries: The Research Study Initiated by the United Way of the Bay Area

Author(s): Lauryn Agnew, Seal Cove Financial

December 2012

Community Development Working Papers

Most fiduciaries of institutional funds (public-defined benefit plans, endowment funds, and quasi-private/public foundations) for many reasons have been reluctant to adopt Impact Investing, Social Responsible Investing (SRI), or Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors in their investment policies and philosophies. Primarily, such social impact factors are deemed to be limiting to the opportunity set of investments and therefore imply a financial return that is potentially substandard. This paper is the result of a challenge to identify if and how a model portfolio could be built for a small, place-based endowment fund, like that of the United Way of the Bay Area (UWBA), and whether our stock and bond investments could be aligned with the mission to reduce poverty in the San Francisco Bay Area without deviating from our fiduciary responsibilities.

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