Impact investing: Walking the walk

Impact investing: Walking the walk

Investing in people and the planet

Where does your money sleep at night? 

It’s a question anyone who cares about the environment will want to ask themselves. It’s a question we’re asking at Audubon Canyon Ranch. 

Money held or invested at most major U.S. banks is often being used to finance fossil fuels and other activities that damage the planet and exacerbate climate change. Fortunately, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing is becoming an increasingly available option. The ESG strategy is to invest in companies that score highly on environmental and societal responsibility scales as determined by independent assessments. 

This is the strategy at Audubon Canyon Ranch. When we invest resources via our endowment, which is funded by legacy gifts, we invest in companies that are making a positive impact on people and the planet. With the expertise and guidance of our partners at Graystone Consulting, institutional consultants specializing in helping nonprofits incorporate impact investment strategies, our investment policies are rigorously aligned with our mission. 

“We’re walking the walk, which is important to me and the whole team,” says Tom Gardali, CEO of Audubon Canyon Ranch. “We’re taking the long view. Even if responsible investments, like renewable energy, are earning slightly less now, we are hopeful and confident they will be top performers in the future.”

A strategy for the future 

Prompted by CFO Gary Schick and forward-thinking members of the Board of Directors, we began ESG investing in 2021, including the development of clear guidelines around climate change and fossil fuels. We invest in companies making a measurable, positive difference, like those included in the Rise Fund — a portfolio spanning climate change, clean energy, agriculture, and access to healthcare for underserved populations. 

Rubicon Carbon is a standout in the Rise Fund portfolio. A relatively new business, Rubicon is facilitating the carbon credit market with standardization and a science-based approach. The current carbon credit industry is fragmented and unregulated, despite most publicly traded companies measuring carbon output and buying carbon offsets. Rubicon is creating a system to standardize carbon credits and a platform to trade these credits. 

“Endowment investments are unique in that there is no end point. They’re designed to operate in perpetuity, so all future generations benefit from the resources,” explains Todd Au, senior vice president at Graystone Consulting. “We are simply establishing a framework for longevity and sustainability. The policies and strategies that are in place are so that years from now, this portfolio has the same purchasing power to do the same good work that Audubon Canyon Ranch is doing today. It will outlive all of us. We’re just here for a moment in time.”

Read stories of people who have included Audubon Canyon Ranch in their will or trust.