Investment Policy for Private Foundations: Seeking Compliance and Survival in the New Normal
The Journal of Wealth Management, Spring 2012, Vol. 14, No. 4: pp. 41-50, DOI: 10.3905/jwm.2012.14.4.041
Posted: 20 May 2019
Date Written: November 1, 2011
In order to ensure long-term viability and impact, many private foundations have three basic investment policy objectives: 1) Distribute 5% of the net fair value of their assets per year; 2) Maintain at least a constant level of real (inflation-adjusted) charitable giving per year; and 3) Do so in perpetuity.
The investment hurdle rate for a private foundation, defined as the return in excess of short term nominal interest rates necessary meet the above objectives, is therefore a function of the 5% distribution requirement, nominal interest rates, and the level of inflation. The current market environment of low nominal interest rates and negative real interest rates presents perhaps the most challenging period in the last thirty years for achieving these goals. We use a simulation analysis based on market-derived capital market assumptions to estimate probabilities of success for three portfolios of various estimated risk levels over the next two decades. Notably, our analysis implies that most foundations are unlikely to maintain the inflation-adjusted value of their corpus in addition to meeting the 5% distribution requirement over the next 10-20 years.
Keywords: Private Foundations, Investment Policy, Asset Allocation
JEL Classification: G11, G23, G29
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation