A Resource for Financial Sustainability

Old West Front

Dickinson’s endowment consists of approximately 900 individual funds established by donors and quasi-endowed by the college.  Endowed funds are managed to ensure that the college carries out donors’ charitable intent in perpetuity by investing assets in a manner that is intended to produce results that exceed the endowment spending rate plus inflation. 

In 2006, Dickinson joined the Investure consortium, an outsourced chief investment office that serves the needs of a select group of prestigious colleges and foundations.  This relationship allows Dickinson to benefit from the capabilities and advantages of a larger investment office which would not be accessible to an endowment of our size.  Investure manages over $13 billion in assets across all asset classes, including approximately 80% of Dickinson’s endowment (the remaining 20% of Dickinson’s endowment is primarily held in trusts in accordance with donor agreements).  Dickinson’s endowment pool has experienced exceptional returns as confirmed by annual peer surveys, which regularly place the college in the 90th percentile (top 10 percent) for all reported 10-year average returns.  

Investure has, and continues to be, a partner with Dickinson and other consortium clients in exploring the issue of sustainable investing and what it means within our combined portfolio.  The following are some of the highlights of this collaboration:

  • Sustainable Investment Initiative: In 2010, Investure created a Sustainable Series within its Global Equity Fund in response to requests made by clients.  The core of the Sustainable Series consists of investments in high-quality businesses with high-quality management teams that have taken a long-term approach to managing the economic, environmental and social aspects of their business.  The Sustainable Series may also include more thematic investments with managers who focus on specific sustainability issues (clean energy, water, climate change, green real estate, etc.).  Dickinson's original $4 million commitment to this fund has quadrupled to our current commitment of $16 million over the past eight years.
  • Proxy Voting Principles: In 2012, consortium clients engaged with Investure to develop a set of proxy voting principles to be shared with fund managers.  These principles reflect the core values of many consortium clients with regard to socially responsible investing and are intended to promote a culture of active shareholder engagement.
  • Sustainable Investments Reporting: Investure provides the investment committee of the board of trustees with a quarterly analysis of sustainability investments within the endowment.  This report shows both specific investments in sustainability within the portfolio as well as managers that utilize environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) criteria in their investment process.       

In addition to the focus on sustainability within our endowment portfolio, the enhanced returns we have experienced from the endowment pool have allowed us to increase our direct investments in sustainability on campus and within our community.  Annual spending from the endowment supports 13% of the Dickinson operating budget and provides funding for other restricted funds as designated by donors.  Spending from the endowment provides ongoing support for financial aid, academic programming and faculty salary support, facilities maintenance and a variety of other purposes.  Examples of Dickinson’s direct investments in environmental sustainability can be found under the section on Expenditures.      

Questions & Responses to the Community Investment Forum- April 23, 2015