Diversity of Asset Managers in Philanthropy

Published

A study to assess the representation of women and racial or ethnic minorities among investment firms used by the country’s top 50 charitable foundations


For a decade, Knight Foundation has been intentional about identifying high quality, diversely-owned asset managers when investing its endowment. In response to frequent questions from a variety of stakeholders into the performance of the charitable sector regarding this issue — the questions arising from the general lack of data — Knight Foundation asked Global Economics Group to assess the representation of diverse asset managers among foundations. 

The study assessed the representation of women- and racial or ethnic minority-owned investment firms (“diversely-owned firms”), among investment firms used by the country’s top 50 charitable foundations.3 The study analyzed available endowment investment data for 26 of the top 50 foundations (“Participating Foundations”) and included only endowment investments managed by investment firms based in the United States, amounting to $63.95 billion in invested assets (“Analyzed AUM”).4 The study found: 

  • $8.62 billion (13.5%) is invested with diversely-owned firms. 
  • $6.82 billion (10.7%) is invested with women-owned firms, and $5.93 billion (9.3%) is invested with minority-owned firms, as defined below. Approximately 50% of the $8.62 billion is invested with firms that are both women- and minority-owned; thus, the sum of the two figures is greater than $8.62 billion.5 
  • The average foundation invests 13.3% of its assets in diversely-owned firms, 10.8% in women-owned firms and 9% in minority-owned firms. The median foundation invests 13.5% in diversely-owned firms, 10.9% in women-owned firms and 7.9% in minority-owned firms. 
  • As the histogram below shows, all but four of the 26 Participating Foundations invest some portion of their assets with diversely-owned firms. Over half invest more than 10% of their assets with such firms. Two foundations invest more than 30% of their assets with diversely-owned firms, with the maximum invested amount equal to 45.9%. 

Full Results

The table below shows key results for the top 50 foundations; for full results see the report. We selected the top 50 foundations in terms of the market value of total assets, according to data compiled by Candid in 2019. The top 50 foundations on the Candid list collectively hold $290.32 billion in total assets and consist of the following organizational types:

  • 39 independent foundations,
  • 7 community foundations, and 
  • 4 operating foundations. 

Of the top 50 foundations, we were able to compile and analyze investment data for 26, either by accessing the data through publicly available sources or through direct voluntary submission by Participating Foundations. Such investment data amounts to $63.95 billion in Analyzed AUM. Of the remaining 24 foundations whose investment data are not included in the study:

  • 16 had insufficient publicly available data and declined to participate in the study for a variety of reasons, including contractual nondisclosure agreements with fund managers (classified as: “Declined to participate; insufficient public data for analysis.”),
  • 3 had insufficient publicly available data and did not respond to our requests (classified as: “Did not respond to requests; insufficient public data for analysis.”), and 
  • 5 had investment assets that were mostly or completely invested in assets that do not fit with the purpose of this study, such as art or a family office (classified as: “Investment assets are not relevant to the study. See notes.”).

The remainder of this report provides greater detail on the study in order to ensure that the process we implemented is clear and replicable. This study is purely descriptive, based on a set of clearly defined rules as described in the Methodology section. Appendix A provides a compilation of foundations’ comments of up to 200 words from those foundations that elected to submit a comment. Appendix B provides detailed notes on the available investment data for each foundation. 

Total Assets ($B)1Analyzed 
AUM ($B)2
Analyzed AUM Managed by Diversely-Owned Firms3
1Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation$51.83$1.153.40%
2Ford Foundation$13.83Declined to participate; insufficient public data for analysis.
3Silicon Valley Community Foundation4$13.58$8.58 ($0.95)2.0% (18.4%)
4J. Paul Getty Trust$12.60Declined to participate; insufficient public data for analysis.
5Lilly Endowment Inc.$11.68Investment assets are not relevant to the study. See notes. 
6The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation$11.40$6.2126.60%
7Foundation to Promote Open Society$10.32Declined to participate; insufficient public data for analysis.
8The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation$9.89Declined to participate; insufficient public data for analysis.
9W.K. Kellogg Foundation$8.60Declined to participate; insufficient public data for analysis.
10Bloomberg Family Foundation Inc$7.85Investment assets are not relevant to the study. See notes. 
11The David and Lucile Packard Foundation$7.10Declined to participate; insufficient public data for analysis.
12John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation$7.00$4.809.90%
13The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation$6.86$4.5917.00%
14Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation$6.45Declined to participate; insufficient public data for analysis.
15The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust$5.47$4.3019.40%
16Walton Family Foundation$4.93$3.4415.40%
17Tulsa Community Foundation/ George Kaiser Family Foundation$4.54$1.390.00%
18The JPB Foundation$4.28$1.2819.10%
19The Rockefeller Foundation$4.09$2.7314.20%
20The Kresge Foundation$3.95$1.9713.60%
21Open Society Institute$3.73Declined to participate; insufficient public data for analysis.
22The Duke Endowment$3.69Declined to participate; insufficient public data for analysis.
23The California Endowment$3.67Declined to participate; insufficient public data for analysis.
24Carnegie Corporation of New York$3.52$1.9020.90%
25Robert W. Woodruff Foundation$3.32$3.130.00%
26Simons Foundation$3.32Declined to participate; insufficient public data for analysis.
27Greater Kansas City Community Foundation$3.16Investment assets are not relevant to the study. See notes. 
28Chan Zuckerberg Foundation$3.13Investment assets are not relevant to the study. See notes. 
29John Templeton Foundation$2.91$1.9121.70%
30Margaret A. Cargill Foundation$2.90Declined to participate; insufficient public data for analysis.
31Chicago Community Trust4$2.83$2.50 ($1.06)13.4% (31.6%)
32The Annie E. Casey Foundation$2.82$1.2814.90%
33The New York Community Trust4$2.81$2.36 ($0.94)3.6% (9.1%)
34Charles Stewart Mott Foundation$2.79Declined to participate; insufficient public data for analysis.
35Conrad N. Hilton Foundation$2.69Declined to participate; insufficient public data for analysis.
36The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation$2.67Did not respond to requests; insufficient public data for analysis.
37Shelby Cullom Davis Charitable Fund$2.52Did not respond to requests; insufficient public data for analysis.
38The Wyss Foundation$2.51$0.570.00%
39The William Penn Foundation$2.49$1.6013.10%
40The Carl Victor Page Memorial Foundation$2.49$0.5810.30%
41Maxcess Foundation Inc.$2.48Did not respond to requests; insufficient public data for analysis.
42Foundation for the Carolinas$2.48$1.515.20%
43Kimbell Art Foundation$2.46Investment assets are not relevant to the study. See notes. 
44Cleveland Foundation$2.45Declined to participate; insufficient public data for analysis.
45Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation$2.43$0.950.00%
46McKnight Foundation$2.41$1.517.70%
47Casey Family Programs$2.39$1.2835.30%
48The James Irvine Foundation$2.37Declined to participate; insufficient public data for analysis.
49John S. and James L. Knight Foundation$2.32$1.7645.90%
50Richard King Mellon Foundation$2.32$0.6914.10%
Total4$290.32$63.95 ($53.47)13.5% (16.1%)

Notes

1 “Top 100 Active U.S. Foundations by Assets, circa 2017,” sourced by Candid in 2019. Foundation Type as determined by Candid is defined as follows: IN=Independent Foundation, CM=Community Foundation and OP=Operating Foundation.

2 IRS Form 990 (most recent filing for each foundation as of October 1, 2019) and investment firm data provided directly by participating foundations. Analyzed AUM reflects the portion of the foundation’s invested assets for which identifying information on its investment firms is available, and includes only the invested assets that are held and managed by firms that are (1) based in the United States and (2) available in Preqin’s or eVestment’s diversity datasets, or in the diversity data submitted by participating foundations, such that the investment firm’s diversity of ownership profile can be observed. Analyzed AUM, therefore, may not reflect all invested assets. See Appendix B, “Notes on Available Data,” for exceptions and additional information.

3 Preqin Alternative Assets diversity data for private equity, venture capital, private debt, hedge fund, real estate, infrastructure, and natural resource asset classes (as of June 26, 2019). eVestment® diversity data for separate account, commingled trust fund, institutional mutual fund, and exchange-traded fund asset classes (as of August 14, 2019). All eVestment® data Copyright (c) 2019. Diversity data submitted by participating foundations. See Appendix B, “Notes on Available Data,” 

4 The figures in parentheses represent only the portion of the public charity’s invested endowment that the organization itself controls. See Appendix B, “Notes on Available Data,” for additional detail on the alternative diversity calculation used for participating public charities in this study. for exceptions and additional information on each foundation.

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