As an endowed foundation, The Christensen Fund has the opportunity to use our invested assets to advance our mission. Working with our Board of Trustees and our carefully selected financial managers, we are continually assessing the field of Impact Investing to discover the ways that we can use our endowment to affect positive change in the world. Here are some of the areas that we are currently exploring:
Program-Related Investment (PRI): Christensen has launched a 3-year, $2 million PRI Pilot Program, focusing on indigenous-led, bio-cultural landscapes in the U.S. Southwest. We expect to make our initial investments – initially using debt instruments – in 2017. Our PRI investments will have a strong programmatic fit and will complement our grantmaking in this region.
Impact Investment Policy: Christensen has resolved to allocate up to 12%-15% of its portfolio to PRI and Impact Investments within the next 5 years. The Foundation believes it can make a significant positive change by allocating portfolio funds toward projects that reduce climate impact and have a bio-cultural or indigenous (or both) component.
Christensen Carbon Footprint Reduction: Although we are a small foundation leaving a light imprint, despite the impact of our work, we still are establishing absolute and intensity targets to significantly reduce our carbon footprint. In 2015 we established annual footprint reduction targets to 2020 and also a long-term footprint reduction target for 2030.
ISS Proxy Voting: The Christensen Fund values shareholder engagement and the utilization of its portfolio assets in furtherance of its mission. To this end, the foundation will engage in proxy votes on issues and concerns consistent with its mission, will partner with coalitions engaged in issues consistent with its mission, and may author shareholder resolutions and build coalitions in specific areas. Areas of interest include but are not limited to environment/climate/energy, human rights, worker rights, board and leadership diversity, equal opportunity, ESG policy adoption and the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Direct Shareholder Activism: Christensen may join with like-minded investors from time to time, on issues of its choosing, to engage in campaigns to influence corporate behavior to evaluate, measure and reduce corporate climate impact.
Policy Advocacy: Christensen may join with like-minded foundations and institutions from time to time, on issues of its choosing, to support climate-impact-friendly initiatives.
Fossil Fuel Divestment
Divest/Invest Pledge – Paris 2015: The Christensen Fund is not a signatory agency to Divest/Invest and does not expect to sign on before the 2015 UN Climate Conference in Paris. However, we have adopted a proactive policy response to the important climate change issue, fully consistent with our mission and values.
Divestment from Carbon 200: Christensen has below 1% portfolio exposure to the Carbon 200. We regularly review our portfolio both for Carbon 200 exposure and Fossil Fuel exposure. Christensen has negligible portfolio investments in Carbon 200 and Fossil Fuels, but we do not intend to divest this incremental exposure because of the significant management hurdles this would create for the rest of our portfolio, which is pooled with dozens of other investors’ funds.
Public and Private Portfolio Screening: We screen our portfolio at least annually for exposure to the Carbon 200. In addition, we also use the MSCI ESG Manager to screen our various public holdings by asset class. 98% of our public holdings have a BBB or higher Intangible Value Assessment (IVA), which would qualify our public portfolio as being eligible for any investor seeking an SRI impact or following a responsible investment mandate. We evaluate our private portfolio using a screening framework of 13 factors within broad environmental, social and governance categories, following UN PRI principles and mirroring the MSCI ESG approach for public holdings.