The Intentional Endowments Network (IEN) is a broad-based, collaborative peer-learning network advancing intentionally designed endowments – that enhance financial performance and are aligned with institutional mission, values, and sustainability goals. IEN supports learning on a variety of sustainable investing strategies, such as ESG integration, impact investing, shareholder engagement, that will make a significant and critical contribution to creating a healthy, just, and sustainable society. I
Working closely with leading organizations and initiatives – including Ceres, the World Resources Institute, the Principles for Responsible Investment, Second Nature, Sustainable Investments Institute, Sustainable Endowments Institute, Responsible Endowments Coalition, CDP, and many others – the network engages key leaders and stakeholders in the higher education, business, and non-profit sectors. It provides opportunities for learning and education, peer networking, convening, thought leadership and information exchange to support progress towards its vision of intentionally designed endowments becoming the norm in higher education and beyond.
IEN is an initiative of The Crane Institute of Sustainability, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit. It is coordinated by Georges Dyer and Tony Cortese and based in Boston, MA.
For more on what the Network has accomplished, see IEN's Activities to Date (updated periodically).
About Intentionally Designed Endowments
The concept of the “Intentionally Designed Endowment” is about ensuring that institutional investment practices consider the full range of emerging material issues related to sustainability, and do not inadvertently work against the mission or values of the institution. It involves being intentional about how investment decisions can both achieve the strongest financial returns possible, which are necessary to support the institution now and in the future, and contribute to creating a sustainable society, which is necessary to ensure a safe and stable future within which to operate. It is not to advocate any specific action or approach.
- An intentionally designed endowment strategy involves aligning investment practices with institutional mission and values as appropriate for the culture and goals of each institution.
- It is non-prescriptive, and involves developing a more complete picture of the investment portfolio by considering environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors when evaluating investments.
- Such a strategy has many benefits including reducing risks associated with regulation, litigation, resource scarcity and costs, and consumer preferences that can threaten companies with poor sustainability performance.
- An intentionally designed endowment strategy can include any mix of approaches an institution chooses to employ, such as positive or negative screening, divestment, shareholder engagement or activism, ESG integration, social finance, impact investing, and others.
- Topics such as ESG criteria, climate risk and stranded assets are increasingly becoming mainstream investment concerns, with which fiduciaries in all capacities should be familiar.