Yale School of Management

Video: Nathan Cummings Foundation Decides to Go 'All in'

Members of the Nathan Cummings Foundation leadership discuss their recent decision to move to 100% impact investing aligned with the foundation's mission.

April 9, 2019

Source: Case Research & Development, Yale University School of Management

Case Excerpt:

“Impact investing or mission-related investing had been a hot topic for the investment community for some time. Traditionally, endowment managers had focused on their fiduciary duty, evaluating investment policy and assets looking for appropriate risk and return to protect and grow the assets of their organizations, which could then provide funds for activities that supported the organization's mission. Looking to create a diverse portfolio of assets, many analysts recommended investments across sectors and varied investment types.

But some philanthropic organizations had begun to ask if their investment strategies should reflect the organization's long-term vision and focus on investments that supported the organization's social goals. A few foundations had begun to make moves toward mission-related investing. The Heron Foundation had made a 100% commitment of its $300 million endowment, and the Ford Foundation had announced its intent to direct a billion of the $12 billion endowment over the 10 years to mission driven investments. But the Nathan Cummings Foundation's decision to move to 100% mission-driven investment was considered a bold move by both insiders and outside observers.

The Nathan Cummings Foundation Investment Committee and Board of Trustees had discussed the decision for several years, bringing in Sonen Capital as consultants in the months leading to the final decision. The Board voted 100% to support this new direction and new goals for financial investments, but many questions remained. How could NCF operationalize and integrate this new strategy? What changes would it need to make to support the investment strategies' long-term success? How could NCF measure and track its progress and success with this new strategy?”

- From  Yale School of Management Case Study #19-011, “Nathan Cummings Foundation: Mission-Driven Investing”

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