As an endowed foundation, we are striving for coherency between our grantmaking and our investments. We consider it our responsibility to be as committed and mission-focused in investing our endowment, based on ethical and principled social values, as we are in making grants.  

Swift Foundation’s approach to investing is to apply a continuum approach across the spectrum of grants to investments. We understand that visionary companies committed to high ethical priorities and working in underserved communities often require additional grant support. Furthermore, the nonprofit organizations we work with sometimes need access to low-interest rate loans to maximize their results. We communicate openly and regularly with investment staff and apply the same holistic thinking and criteria toward values-aligned investments and in determining when to couple grants with investments. 

While we are committed to the foundation’s future, we are not trying to grow the endowment exponentially as it would mean compromising our values in order to make more money. We have decided to maintain about 85% ($50 million) of the foundation’s roughly $60 million endowment in relative perpetuity in what is called our Transition Portfolio and have assigned $10 million to the Aligned Portfolio. Growth beyond the $50 million in the Transition Portfolio can be re-allocated to the Aligned Portfolio once the grants and administrative costs are covered. Likewise, when investments in the Aligned Portfolio have long enough track records and consistent returns in their asset class they are then moved into the Transition Portfolio.

Investment Criteria

In alignment with our mission, Swift Foundation’s investment criteria focus on supporting socially and environmentally responsible endeavors. We aspire to model this philosophy of asset management. For example, it is not just about agricultural productivity, but also soil health, social justice and land rights. Nor is it simply about making more low interest rate loans, but also about focusing on minority ownership, worker ownership, community ownership, profit sharing and other models of community benefit. Alongside our highly mission-aligned investing, we also give priority to best practices across the portfolio. We strive to be strategic in aligning our investing with our grantmaking by discussing with a recipient (be they, grantee-partner, business or organization) whether a grant, loan or investment is the most appropriate instrument to meet their needs.

How We Invest

  • We make deposits in social and environmentally oriented Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs) and Credit Unions;
  • We rely on fund managers to screen for social, environmental and governance factors in our public equities;
  • We work with fund manager specialists to vote our proxies, and engage in shareholder activism around key environmental, social and governance issues;
  • We invest with fund managers that support innovative and socially and environmentally sustainable businesses in the private sector;
  • We support high impact companies through direct investments

Proxy Voting Guidelines

We consider it our obligation as shareholders to file resolutions and vote for or against proxies in accordance with our mission. While our priority is investing in change, we also believe shareholder campaigns are another useful way to further our mission.

No Buy Guidelines

Swift Foundation does not invest in any company receiving 10 percent or more in gross revenues from the development, manufacture, sale or distribution of any of the following items:

  • Coal or nuclear power (including the mining, storing or transportation of such fuels)
  • Genetically modified organisms (seeds, fish or animals)
  • Synthetic agrochemicals
  • Old-growth timber
  • Antipersonnel weapons, armaments, ammunition or weapons-related systems
  • Nuclear weapons contract awards from the U.S. Department of Defense or comparable agency or department of any foreign government

Companies that do not fall into any of the above categories may still be ineligible for investments or eligible for immediate liquidation if their business practices prove to be a gross violation of the social principles (such as human rights violations; the violation of free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples; discriminatory or abusive labor practices, including the exploitation of child labor; flagrant or egregious damage to the environment; and unethical business practices).

Emerging markets mutual funds are exempt from the investment restrictions if authorized and if the total amount of prohibited types of companies does not exceed 10% of the total value of the fund.