Financial Performance of Sustainable Investing: The State of the Field and Case Studies for Endowments

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The financial performance of ESG strategies remains a central concern for the fiduciaries stewarding these institutions’ capital. This report provides an update on the state of the research, highlighting studies that have explored the financial performance of a variety of sustainable investing strategies. The bottom line? A growing body of evidence from academics and practitioners shows that sustainable investing strategies, in general, perform as well or better than traditional approaches.  

For the first time, this report provides a collection of real-world cases of college and university endowments implementing sustainable investment strategies and meeting their financial performance targets. 

The 11 schools reviewed in the IEN report are: Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ (with BlackRock); Becker College, Worcester, MA (with HIP Investor); California State University, Long Beach, CA (with Graystone Consulting); College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, ME (with Cambridge Associates); Hampshire College, Amherst, MA (with Prime Buchholz); North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC; Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI (with Global Endowment Management); Unity College, Unity, ME (with Spinnaker Trust); University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH; University of California, Oakland, CA; and Warren Wilson College, Swananoa, NC.






Georges Dyer, Executive Director, Intentional Endowments Network

Alice DonnaSelva, Managing Director, Intentional Endowments Network

Hannah Bowen, Network Manager, Intentional Endowments Network


With input and feedback from case-study participants, including:

Jeff Mindlin, Arizona State University

David Ellis, Becker College

Garrett Ashley and Aaron Moore, California State University

Peter Tooher, Drew Landry, Sylvia Banda, and Tom Mitchell, Cambridge Associates

Darron Collins and Henry “Hank” Schmelzer, College of the Atlantic

Meredith Heimburger, Global Endowment Management

Ed Wingenbach, Tom Dybick, and Catherine Smith, Hampshire College

Paul Herman, HIP Investor

Libby George, North Carolina State University

Ian MacPherson, Kate Dumas, Valentina Dingle, and Chris Caseley, Prime Buchholz

Sara Lewis, Spinnaker Trust

Erik Gross, University of New Hampshire

Melik Khoury, Unity College

Anthony Rust, Warren Wilson College


We are very grateful to the following parties for making this report possible:

The Denver Foundation for its generous support for this report.

Members of the Intentional Endowments Network, whose support and engagement make this work possible.

See the full list of IEN members at


Additional Financial Performance Resources:

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