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Alternative Market Briefing

Foundations post record returns for FY 2017

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Bailey McCann, Opalesque New York:

Commonfund has released its annual study of foundations, which shows trends in allocator preferences and investment returns. The report is done each year through a partnership between the Council on Foundations and the Commonfund Institute. Data in the study comes from 224 foundations, representing $104.4 billion of endowment assets.

2017 was a positive year overall for foundations. Data in the study shows that for fiscal year 2017, private foundations reported an average return of 15.0 percent. Community foundations reported returns of 15.1 percent for the same period. FY2017 returns were the highest since FY2013, when private foundations reported an average return of 15.6 percent and community foundations reported an average return of 15.2 percent.

Private foundations realized slightly higher returns than their community foundation peers for the 3-, 5- and 10-year time periods, but community foundations as a group outperformed private foundations by 10 basis points.

"We are gratified with stronger investment performance in FY2017, but perhaps most reassuring is the increase in trailing 10-year average annual returns. For private foundations, the good return this year boosted trailing 10-year returns to an annual average of 5.5 percent compared to last year's 4.7 percent. For community foundations, the 10-year average annual return rose to 5.3 percent from 4.6 percent in FY2016. Even in the mid-5 percent range, returns a......................

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