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*New: Investment Readiness Program

IRP is a Government of Canada program being delivered nationally by partners including Community Foundations of Canada. As the first phase in the government’s long-term investment in social finance, the IRP’s goal is to make social-purpose organizations “investment ready” so they can make a difference in new and innovative ways through their participation in the social finance market. The deadline to apply is October 9, 2020; read more here.

Aligning our assets with our mission

Recognizing that all investments have impact, we believe they can be powerful tools to accelerate achieving our vision and mission. For Hamilton Community Foundation, “all in” means we are committed to aligning 100 percent of our investments with our mission and vision through:

Impact investments: Public and private investments intended to create positive impact beyond financial returns. Our current goal is to devote 20 percent of our assets to these investments by 2020.

Responsible investments: Public market investments that integrate environmental, social and governance factors (ESG) into their selection and management.

Last year, our Board of Directors approved these investment beliefs that guide us toward our goals:

As a public foundation, we exist to advance our mission and vision in the interest of the public good and in support of our donors’ intentions. We challenge the premise that our investments are only a means to create income to fund granting and operations of the Foundation. Instead, we believe that:

  • All in vestments broadly have social and environmental impact – positive, neutral or negative. As such, we are committed to recognizing the impact of our investments to ensure that we don’t undermine our vision, mission and values.
  • Our investments will be catalysts to accelerate our ability to achieve our vision and mission. We actively seek out opportunities to create positive change through our capital.
  • We are not sacrificing investment returns on our portfolio but, rather, using responsible investing and impact investing as tools to ensure sustainable long-term returns and provide diversification through alternative investments.  Read the research here.
  • We must use evidence-based decision-making to ensure that our assets are invested in a socially responsible manner and that they do not contravene the work of our grantees or our community leadership efforts.
  • This warrants time and resources due to the inherent complexity of our vision and mission. We are committed to take the time to shift our investment processes, investment products and engagement approach with our managers.
  • These efforts will accelerate our overall success. We are confident that aligning our portfolio with our vision, mission and values is the most responsible use of our resources to accelerate achievement of our vision
    and mission.
Impact investments

Through impact investing, all donations to endowed funds drive positive change in two ways: through granting and through investments that deliver financial returns coupled with positive social and/or environmental outcomes.

As illustrated in the chart below, we progressed toward our 20 percent by 2020 goal with $21 million currently placed or outstanding and an additional $13 million committed. This brings our total commitment to $34 million, up from $28 million last year. In total, more than 10 percent of our assets are actively invested for impact. Our impact investments cover areas including affordable housing, arts, environment, and sustainable development.

We approved loans of $2.6 million to local projects last year, bringing our total loans since inception
to $9.3 million. The purposes of
our community loans to date are shown in the chart opposite. Since the program’s 2012 launch, loan repayments total $2.5 million, capital which has been recycled back to the community.

Responsible investments

Responsible investing is the way we drive impact through our public market portfolio. We do this through independent audits of our investment portfolio’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance, and proxy voting records on important ESG issues. In this area, our accomplishments last year included developing an exclusion policy. We consider excluding specific industries/sectors from our portfolio on an exception basis. Currently tobacco, illegal weapons and predatory lending are excluded. We continue to explore additional responsible investing tools, including more active shareholder practices, as we learn.