A globally responsible community foundation: Clayoquot Biosphere Trust

Investing in a fossil-free portfolio offers new possibilities for impact to foundations with a specific, local mission. Clayoquot Biosphere Trust’s impactful local programs are supported by a customized fossil free investment fund that, in turn, has its own positive impacts.

In January 2000, Clayoquot Sound became British Columbia’s first UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The UNESCO designation celebrated Clayoquot’s unique ecosystems and the respectful relationship of its people with their environment. As some of the only remaining intact temperate zone rainforest watersheds left in the northern hemisphere, the Reserve’s 3,000 km2 were significant to biodiversity conservation. Residents were looking for ways to be more sustainable while continuing the traditional economic activities of the region, such as logging and fishing.

A socially ethical investment mandate

Upon the UNESCO Reserve’s inception, the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust was granted a $12 million endowment fund by Environment Canada for research, education and training purposes relating to sustainable development and conservation. The fund came with a mandate for sustainability and socially responsible investment. To help them meet these terms, Clayoquot Biosphere Trust turned to Vancouver-based Genus Capital who customized a fossil free investment fund that has supported earnings of $550,000 to $600,000 annually for the last 15 years.

“Genus’ SRI fund has given us a means of delivering on our mission, not just locally, but on a larger global citizen scale.”       

Rebecca Hurwitz, Executive Director, Clayoquot Biosphere Trust

Sustainability & financial performance

Rebecca Hurwitz, Executive Director at Clayoquot Biosphere Trust, is happy with the fund’s “thriving” performance, with returns not only comparable, but often better than conventional funds. According to the Responsible Investment Association, 87% of impact investors who targeted portfolio competitiveness either met or outperformed expectations in 2013.

As a community foundation, Clayoquot Biosphere Trust’s impacts from programs are mainly felt in the local community. As a socially responsible investor, they have been able to increase their impact to a global scale while maintaining their financial sustainability.


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Client impact

“Graduating from a big bank to Genus was one of the best financial steps we've ever taken. Genus has delivered reliable asset growth despite our moderate risk tolerance. As our financial security has grown, we've also been the beneficiaries of a great client experience. The company's communications have been consistently transparent and informative, including educational webinars and a well-designed web portal where we can track investments daily. Most importantly to us, our portfolio manager has always responded swiftly and thoroughly to our questions and requests. ”
Martin T.
"Having relatively diverse financial goals and needs, along with a slight reticence regarding the stock market, Genus skillfully addressed all of our concerns, and put together a truly exceptional plan: Fossil free funds and a diversified investment portfolio, check; An effective Impact investment portfolio that coincides with our hopes and dreams for a better world, check; Professional advice and assistance to create a donor advised charitable fund with immediate charitable receipts for tax purposes, check. Returns? Way beyond our expectations! We even had some fun along the way and certainly enjoyed an incredible two-year start to what will be a satisfying long-term relationship with Genus."
Marc B.
“I love the service I get at Genus.”
Chris H.
“Leslie and I were fellow board members when we met twenty years ago. For the last ten she has been thoughtful in the construction of an investment strategy for my family and is executing the strategy as planned. The team at Genus has met my expectations and are a pleasure to deal with.”
Bob Q.
“For over 15 years, I have provided selection and performance evaluation of multiple investment managers for a significant family office. Leslie and Genus have been foundational for me in my role. I have always found Leslie and her colleagues to be insightful and proactive, and found the performance of their portion of the portfolio to be well above benchmarks. And they have been a great pleasure to work with.”
Douglas H.
“Genus is a very innovative firm. I am pleased to invest in their Fossil Free and Impact strategies that help me invest in line with my values.”
Marnie C.
“Great team of professionals. Excellent website and reporting. Responds to inquiries promptly. Very pleased with the process of changing from another company to Genus as well. Kudos.”
David L.
“Genus consistently provides a good, clearly explained, comprehensive picture of the general economic and financial situation, along with an excellent account of the investment decisions made in relation to this. Genus’ equally strong concern with clients’ questions and requests for further information is also a very important part of the service it provides.”
Allan S.
“Back in 1992 when I found myself at fifty with a substantial amount of money to invest, I knew just one thing — that I didn’t want to contribute to tobacco companies, arms manufacturers, or oil. But over the ensuing years the options for socially responsible investing have become far more sophisticated and I’m very happy that this is a big part of the Genus approach. I also very much appreciate the long-term relationship with my portfolio manager, Mary Lou.”
Ann P.

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