In 2005, when the David Suzuki Foundation (DSF) chose Genus Capital as their endowment fund manager, they were conscious of where their funds were invested, what they were indirectly supporting, and how that aligned with their values and their mission to protect nature. Ten years later Genus is still managing this fund, which has grown to $15M through a combination of donations and investment income.
THE SECRET TO DSF’S INVESTMENT SUCCESS
Robinson says successful non-profit organizations focus on three things: their mission, their ability to operate, and the alignment of these factors. Where investment is concerned, this means incorporating a primary screen that selects sources that support your mission, divesting from sources that run counter, while at the same time maintaining sufficient fund performance.
“It would be inconceivable to not apply our values to everything we do, from investments to procurement.”
It would be irresponsible for DSF to promote and foster an economic transition away from fossil fuels while also investing in them. Instead, DSF belongs to a pooled fund that adheres to strict environmental, social, and governance criteria, and excludes any organizations involved in the extraction, production, and transportation of fossil fuels. It is guided by a sustainability thematic, the effect of which is not just to reject fossil fuels, but also to focus impact investment on organizations with similar future visions, such as Vestas, a global energy company dedicated exclusively to wind power.
SUPPORTING OPERATING REVENUE
In addition to mission alignment, ROI was also a critical necessity for DSF’s fund portfolio. Today, Robinson is satisfied with the fund’s long-term performance, noting that each year investment income makes up an increasing amount of their operating revenue. Last year, the endowment fund was able to contribute upwards of $650,000 to DSF’s programs.
“We are happy to be involved with a fund that aligns with our values, but which also allows us to grow investment income that supports our operations.”
This year, DSF is celebrating its 25th Anniversary. They are reflecting on their success in gaining the trust of millions of Canadians, and in influencing public policy and business practices for the last quarter century. Genus applauds them as the Anniversary sponsor.
Investing and divesting are part of the solution to the challenge of a post-fossil-fuel economy. Genus has helped David Suzuki Foundation, Tides Canada Foundation, UNESCO’s Clayoquot Biosphere Trust and others to be part of that solution.