At the Sierra Club Foundation, we believe our fiduciary duty is not limited solely to prudent oversight and investment of the Foundation's assets, but includes a responsibility to manage those assets in a manner consistent with our mission and values. Beginning in 2010 when our Investment Committee transitioned the Foundation’s equity holdings in the operating and endowment portfolios to funds that met our environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria, we have continued to prioritize mission-aligned investing without compromising the Foundation’s strategy to achieve superior long-term performance while moderating risk to maximize the resources available to meet the mission objectives of the Foundation and its donors.
Accordingly, in 2013, the Board of Directors elected to divest from holdings in fossil fuel companies and reinvest those assets in companies promoting climate and clean energy solutions - a decision that was based on our goal to align our investments with our mission, but which we also consider to have a financial impact because of the downside risk of fossil fuel companies holding "stranded assets." In a carbon-constrained world that faces increasingly severe climate disruption, these companies will not be able to access these reserves, which we believe will cause a major correction in their value.
This commitment led to the Foundation being one of the initial signers to the Divest-Invest Philanthropy Initiative in January 2014 (now DivestInvest) and a participant in the White House Clean Energy Summit in June 2015, where we announced a new commitment to clean energy investments in our endowment that offer potential solutions toward accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy by 2050.
In April 2016, the signatories of Divest-Invest Philanthropy received the 2016 Nelson Mandela-Graça Machel Innovation Award for Brave Philanthropy from CIVICUS as part of International Civil Society Week for our path-breaking commitment to divest from fossil fuels and invest in climate solutions.
In 2018, the Foundation updated its Investment Policy Statement, and in 2021 updated its Catalytic Capital Fund Policy (formerly High Impact Investment Policy). As a result of our efforts, the Sierra Club Foundation won the 2018 Chief Investment Officer (CIO) Industry Innovation Award for ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) investing.
Sierra Club Foundation participates in the following organizations and networks advancing mission-aligned and impact investing:
The Climate Solutions Collaborative
Mission Investors Exchange
PRI: Principles for Responsible Investment
Intentional Endowments Network
Ceres Investor Network on Climate Risk and Sustainability