General Sustainable Investing Resources

What is Sustainable Investing?*

Sustainable investing for endowments broadly means investing to meet the financial needs of the institution that is served by the endowment through companies and other assets that create a thriving, sustainable economy in which the institution's mission continues to be advanced. The Intentionally Designed Endowments Primer and the articles that follow provide more detailed descriptions, case studies and guidelines for sustainable investing.

*A word about our terminology...

We use the term "sustainable investing" broadly to mean aligning investment practices with institutional mission and values and/or explicitly integrating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities in the investment process, regardless of the strategies used to do so. These strategies may include but are not limited to responsible investing (RI), socially responsible investing (SRI), impact investing, mission-aligned investing, shareholder engagement, positive or negative investment screening, and community investing.


Making Sense of the Terms 

Socially Responsible Investing 
Can use both positive and negative screening
Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) 
ESG investing aims to create a more complete picture of potential investment risks and opportunities by factoring environmental, social, and governance criteria into investment decisions
Impact Investing 
Involves investing in projects or companies with the purpose of generating a positive social or environmental change as well as generating a financial return
Negative Screening 
Excludes companies, industries, or countries that the investor considers irresponsible
Refers to selling holdings in a company or sector for financial, ethical, or political reasons in order to reduce risk, avoid being complicit, or make a statement
Positive Screening 
Involves investing in companies that meet certain ESG criteria as determined by the investor, can involve selecting "best-in-class" companies within a sector
Shareholder Engagement or Advocacy 
Uses ownership in a company to improve the company's environmental, social, and governance practices through proxy voting, filing shareholder proposals, or establishing dialogues with company executives


Learn More

IEN Resources

Primer: Intentionally Designed Endowments (2018)

Briefing Paper: The Business Case for ESG (2016)

Article: The Intentionally Designed Endowment (AGB's Trusteeship Magazine, 2017)

White Paper: Investing in Clean Energy: Campuses and Endowments (2016)


Additional Frameworks and Roadmaps

Definitions for Responsible Investment Approaches | CFA Institute, Global Sustainable Investment Alliance, Principles for Responsible Investment, November 2023 

MSCI Sustainability Research Portal | Access a wide rage of curated relevant academy research on sustainable finance

Moving Forward with Sustainable Investing: A Roadmap for Asset Owners | US SIF Foundation, April 2019

Investing in our Future: How Charities Can Lead the Way in Responsible Investment | ShareAction and Charities Responsible Investment Network, April 2019

Resilient and Sustainable Portfolios: A Framework for Responsible Investment | World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), 2019

Turning Point: Corporate Progress on the Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability l Ceres, February 2018

The 21st Century Investor: Ceres Blueprint for Sustainable Investing | Ceres, 2013

Surveys in the Space

Impact Investing Survey Results Summary: Investor Views on Public/Private Approach | KBI Global Investors, May 2019

The ESG Global Survey 2019: Asset owners and managers determine their ESG integration strategies | BNP Paribas, April 2019

2018 Report on Sustainable and Responsible Investing Trends in the United States | US SIF, 2018

New Report Says Institutional Investors Are Making Room for Sustainable Investments l PR Newswire and Bright Harbor Advisors, 2018

Other Resources

Endowment Investing 101 | Savvy Investor, September 2019

Sustainability Reporting Frameworks: A Guide For CIOs | Council of Institutional Investors Research and Education Fund, September 2019

Pathways to Sustainable Investing | CREO and Cambridge Associates, 2019

Sustainable Campus Index 2019 | AASHE, 2019

Global Sustainable Investment Review 2018 | Global Sustainable Investment Alliance, 2018

ESG Integration in the Americas: Markets, Practices, and Data l CFA Institute & PRI, 2018

The ESG Integration Paradox l Michael Cappucci, Harvard Management Company, August 2018

The Role of Investors in Supporting Better Corporate ESG Performance | Ceres, April 2018

Companies Must Take The Higher Road Toward A Sustainable Future | Ceres, February 2018

Responding to Megatrends: Investment Institutions Trend Index 2017 | PRI, December 2017

The Transformation of Growth: How Sustainable Capitalism Can Drive a New Economic Order l Generation Foundation, June 2017

The Value of Corporate Purpose: A Guide for CEOs and Entrepreneurs| KKS Advisors & The Generation Foundation, May 2017

Network Insights: Impact Measurement in the Healthcare Sector l GIIN, March, 2017

The Pope’s Encyclical and the Response from Catholic Institutions l Prime Buchholz, January, 2017

Introduction to ESG Investment l Japanese Ministry of the Environment Working Group on Incorporating Issues Regarding Sustainability into Investment, January 2017

Navigating the Sustainable Investment Landscape l World Resources Institute, December 2016

Building Highways to SDG Investing l Dutch Financial Sector, December, 2016

State of the Industry Analysis: TIIPing Points 2016 l The Investment Integration Project (TIIP), November 2016

Investors, Corporates, and ESG: Bridging the Gap l Pricewaterhouse Coopers' Governance Insights Center, 2016

ESG Investing: A Simple Approach l James Chong and G. Michael Phillips - California State University Northridge, The Journal of Wealth Management, 2016

Placed-Based Investing for Resilient Rural Development: The Emerging Eco-System for Impact Investing within Southern Rural Value Chains l Croatan Institute, August 2016

Investing For a Sustainable Future l MIT Sloan Management Review, May 2016

ESG Grows Up: An Executive Summary of the Privcap Video Series "ESG in Private Equity Comes of Age" l Privcap, 2016

The Impact of Sustainable and Responsible Investment | US SIF, June 2016

"Building a Foundation for the 21st Century" | Heron Foundation, January 2016

Addressing ESG Factors Under ERISA l Principles for Responsible Investment, 2016

Completing the Analysis: ESG Integration | NEPC Impact Investing Committee, November 2015

Large Managers Increasingly Using ESG Factors in Investment Processes - Report l Pensions & Investments, October 2015

A Revolution in Equity Investing: A Deeper Dive into Nonfinancial Data l UBS, July 2015

Invested in Change: Faith-Consistent Investing in a Climate-Challenged World (pdf) | ICCR, April, 2015

ImpactBase Snapshot An analysis of 300+ Impact Investing Funds | ImpactBase, March 2015

Turning a Profit While Doing Good: Aligning Sustainability with Corporate Performance l By Georges Serafeim, Brookings Institute, December 2014

2014 Global Sustainable Investment Review | Global Sustainable Investment Alliance, 2014

Unleashing the Potential of US Foundation Endowments: Using Responsible Investment to Strengthen Endowment Oversight and Enhance Impact | US SIF, 2014

Opportunities for Powerful, Effective Investing - Interview with Stephen Viederman l The Journal of Environmental Investing, 2014

The Impact of Corporate Social Responsibility on Investment Recommendations: Analysts’ Perceptions and Shifting Institutional Logics | Strategic Management Journal, March 2013

From SRI to ESG: The Changing World of Responsible Investing | Commonfund Institute, September 2013

Building the Capacity of Investment Actors to Use Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Information | Principles for Responsible Investment, March 2013

Inflection points: Philanthropy's Bermuda Triangle l Inflection Point Capital Management, April 2011


CFA Institute Resources - a full library of over 100 papers and presentations addressing sustainable investing topics such as CEO pay to clean energy, green bonds and board diversity.

Council on Foundations

Socially Responsible Investing Videos | The Church Pension Fund

Health Care Without Harm

CalPERS: Towards Sustainable Investment & Operations

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