Charities and Transparency on Investments

A new survey, What is the UK public’s opinion of charitable investments, found that 78% of the UK public would think worse of a charity if they found out it had funds invested in activities contrary to its specific work and values. The survey, conducted by the EIRIS foundation and the Holly Hill Charitable Trust, aimed to gauge current opinions of charitable investments.

Other findings include:

  • 84% of people agreed that charities should be fully transparent about their investments;
  • 74% of people agreed that large charities should adopt ethical investment policies prohibiting investment in activities that are contrary to their specific work and values; and
  • 71% agreed that large charities or their fund managers should be pro-active shareholders, engaging with companies to demand high standards of environmental and social responsibility from the companies they invest in.

It is clear from the survey that the public would like charities to think more about the environmental, social and governance impacts that their investments have. They would also like charities to be more transparent about their investment policies and processes. The survey results conclude with Key Action Points for charities to consider:

  • Increase transparency about your investment policy and the investments you make ? as part of this process explain why you invest money; a significant number of people made comments in our survey that indicated they did not understand why charities didn’t spend all the money they received straight away;
  • Review your current investment policy to see if it contradicts your specific work and values;
  • Consider how you could use your investments to further your work and values through engagement, investing in socially and environmentally positive products, and mission investing; and
  • Consult widely to seek views on your investment policy including seeking the views of your charities donors and beneficiaries.