Nearly a third of largest charity investors provide no ethical policy

05 Apr 2019 News

Almost a third of the largest charity investors in the UK have no responsible investment policy in their latest published accounts.

Charity Finance magazine examined the accounts of the 30 charities, excluding universities, with the greatest investment assets for an article published in its latest issue.

Some nine of the 30 charities in the sample had no responsible investment policy in their most recently filed accounts.

The charities are: the Leverhulme Trust, Henry Smith Charity, Charities Aid Foundation, Rothschild Foundation, Barts and the London Charity, Helping Foundation, Nesta Trust, Khodorkovsky Foundation and Shell Foundation.

However, Nesta Trust does publish a responsible investment policy separately, which involves an exclusion of investments in tobacco and controversial weapons.

The Shell Foundation similarly told Civil Society News its asset managers screen to exclude securities that are in breach of UN sanctions and conventions.

Sir John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, meanwhile, said the nature of his organisation makes it impossible to have a responsible investment policy.

He said: "It is not possible for us to have a single investment policy that meets the needs of tens of thousands of donors and thousands of charities each with their own priorities.

Paul Read, director of finance at Leverhulme Trust, said his charity’s policy is “currently under review and will be updated later this year”.

Garfield Weston Foundation, meanwhile, states that it does not have a “geographical, currency or sector restriction”, with its largest investment being in Associated British Foods.

Tobacco excluded

Of those charities that do have a responsible investment policy, nine mention a specific exclusion of tobacco stocks.

These charities are Wellcome Trust, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Health Foundation, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, Wolfson Foundation, Allchurches Trust, Cancer Research UK, Society of Jesus Trust of 1929 for Roman Catholic Purposes and Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Nuffield Foundation also says it does not invest in businesses “where the predominant source of revenue arises from the sale of tobacco”.

However, it says it may retain an exposure to tobacco stocks through pooled funds where “there is no ex-tobacco alternative offered by that manager”.

Subscribers to Charity Finance magazine can read the full article here.



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