Unlocking the Potential of Philanthropic and Family Office Capital for Investing in Climate Solutions

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Philanthropic and family office investors are well positioned to play an important role in the transition to a clean economy, but to date, the pace of progress has not yet met the need.  With public funding for climate solutions in doubt, it is more important than ever to mobilize capital from this community in all of its forms, from grant dollars and PRIs, to market rate opportunities that are a fit for endowment capital. The Climate Solutions Collaborative (C2C), through our Re-Investment Institutes and other programming, works to make the field of climate investing more connective, active, and effective for philanthropic and family office investors.

At recent convenings at the Sierra Club Foundation in Oakland, CA in June, and the Surdna Foundation in New York City in September, C2C’s Re-Investment Institute has brought together participants in structured workshops that foster peer-to-peer exchange and a diversity of perspectives on climate investing. Our goal is to help participants chart their own path towards investing in climate solutions, and to connect with others in the community to encourage collective action. Over the course of these two Re-Investment Institutes, C2C has organized over $13B USD in philanthropic and family office capital committed to investing in climate solutions. With a C2C member base representing over $150B USD, the potential to move the needle on financing climate solutions remains very tangible; however, concerted effort is needed to break down the structural and technical barriers within these institutions, as well as to create better connectivity and clarity among the community.

The events featured luminaries Danny Kennedy, Managing Director of CALCEF, in Oakland and David Crane, former NRG CEO and Current Senior Operating Executive at Pegasus Capital Management, in New York City. Each provided expert perspectives on the overall state of the investment and economic landscape. Research from Mercer was presented to provide additional context. Participants shared their climate investing journey and outlined some of the challenges and opportunities they have encountered along the way. Following a robust knowledge exchange, select asset owners were invited to present with their investment manager to provide a detailed account of how the organizational climate strategy was integrated in the overall portfolio. Featured presentations included:

Shuaib Siddiqui, Director, Impact Investing, Surdna Foundation

William Orum, Partner and Managing Director Capricorn Investment Group

Bruce Kahn, Trustee, The Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation & Sam Sussman, Managing Director, Alternative Investment Group

Melissa Beck, Executive Director, the Educational Foundation of America & Michelle Huang, Director, Generation Investment Management

Adam Wolfensohn, Investment Committee Member, The Rockefeller Brothers Fund

Linda Sheehan, Executive Director, Planet Pledge at The Leonardo Di Caprio Foundation & Delilah Rothenberg, Operating Advisor, Pegasus Capital Advisors

Geoff Eisenberg, Board of Directors, Forsythia Foundation & Adam Durfee, Financial Advisor, Brownson, Rehmus and Foxworth

Regan Pritzker, The Libra Foundation & Aner Ben-Ami, Managing Director, Candide Group

Jen Astone, Executive Director, Swift Foundation & Teresa Dunbar, Impact Investment Analyst, Manchester Capital Management     

Ultimately, we need to develop a clear understanding of the barriers foundations and private investors face in order to accelerate the deployment of capital for climate solutions. Over the course of each Re-Investment Institute, some of the barriers discussed were:

Internal investment expertise: While some participants had either deep investment experience or a dedicated staff member at their institution focused on impact investing, many participants rely on their investment advisors. Conventional investment advisors are all too often laggards in climate investing.

Deal Flow: Participants expressed interest in better understanding the availability of deal flow and in more support to review opportunities.

Capital Deployment: Better data around how and where peers are investing in climate is seen as a key to unlocking greater deployment.

Moving forward, C2C will work within our community to develop strategies and actionable opportunities to move past these barriers. Already, members have begun to work collaboratively, exploring investable opportunities as a group and scoping out ways that they can work together to amplify their impact. With the next Re-Investment Institute set to take place in London in November, we look forward to reaching an even broader audience with this approach and working to foster collaboration and action to solve climate change.

If you have questions about C2C, or are interested in our Re-Investment Institutes, please contact Mark Allegrini at Mark@confluencephilanthropy.org.