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Alternative Market Briefing

Commonfund study highlights renewed focus on alternatives in foundation portfolios

Friday, August 16, 2019

Bailey McCann, Opalesque New York:

Like many investors, private and community foundations had a rough 2018. But, data from the newly released Council on Foundations - Commonfund Study of Investment of Endowments for Private and Community Foundations shows that the long-term prospects for these institutions remain strong.

2018 was the third time in the past ten years private and community foundations have reported negative returns. Participating private foundations reported an average 2018 return of -3.5 percent versus an increase of 15.0 percent for 2017. Participating community foundations reported an average return of -5.3 percent for 2018 compared with 15.1 percent for 2017.

"The fact that the one-year results were somewhat disappointing for private and community foundations was to be expected, their fiscal year ends on December 31 so their returns captured the downturn at the end of last year," explains Cathleen Rittereiser, Executive Director of the Commonfund Institute in an interview with Opalesque.

Despite this, the past decade is a bit of a wash for overall performance. Even though 2018 was a bad year, 2017 represented the third time in the past ten years that foundations also saw double-digit positive performance.

Other indicators in the study point to strong long-term fundamentals. Spending for both private and community foundations remained relatively unchanged in 2018. Fifty-five percent of community foundations reported an increase......................

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