Higher Education Endowment Results: Reflections on Recent Returns and Outlook for the Future

The always highly anticipated annual university endowment results for fiscal 2021 (FY 2021) were released in February, triggering the usual flurry of articles in the financial media. These results received a great deal of attention, largely because of the uniquely strong returns. In our new white paper, “Higher Education Endowment Results: Reflections on Recent Returns and Outlook for the Future”, we aim to:

  • Explain the context for the strong returns, focusing on the asset classes that drove this outcome
  • Give our perspective on the outlook for market returns in the coming years
  • Discuss some of the key investment tenets that, we at TIFF, believe contributed to strong outperformance from some select institutions
University Endowments Eye More Private Equity, Venture Capital and Crypto

Expect more college and university endowments to invest in private equity and venture capital moving forward. That was one takeaway from a conversation with leaders of TIFF Investment Management, a firm that advises nonprofit organizations, including higher-education institutions.

The schools that saw the largest returns in fiscal 2021, a record year for university endowments, profited most from private equity and venture funds, said Kane Brenan, TIFF’s CEO, and Jess Portis, head of member portfolio management and services. That’s inspiring more college endowments to find ways to get a piece of the action. Private equity and venture capital accounted for just 2.3% of asset allocation in endowments between $25 million and $50 million, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers-TIAA 2020 “Study of Endowments.” Meanwhile, endowments over $1 billion relied on those alternative investments for a quarter of their asset allocations.

This is an excerpt from a longer article. Please download the PDF to read more.
Specialist Managers Gain Traction with Fund Investors
TIFF Fundraising Symposium: Diversifying Your Donor Base

On March 16, 2022, TIFF Investment Management hosted the second of four sessions in our Fundraising Symposium. Each session has its own theme and set of presenters, but the purpose of all is the same: To help nonprofits leverage fundraising best practices efficiently and effectively in a post-pandemic landscape.

“Diversifying Your Donor Base” was hosted by Dr. Robert T. Grimm, Jr., the Levenson Family Chair in Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership in the School of Public Policy and Founding Director of the Do Good Institute at the University of Maryland. Ebonie J. Cooper-Jean, Principal of Friends of Ebonie, LLC, and Executive Director and Founder of the Young, Black & Giving Back Institute (YBGB), led an interactive presentation on changing our definition of generosity, unraveling stereotypes around people of color and giving, and engaging with different communities of color.

TIFF Members can access the recording of the session and presentation materials through the Member portal. A high-level summary of this exciting event appears below.

If you have questions or feedback or would like to receive an invitation to the remaining sessions in our 2022 Fundraising Symposium, please send an email with your name, affiliation, and title to memberservices@tiff.org.

1st Quarter 2022 CIO Commentary

So Many Questions, So Few Answers

Rarely has the investing environment been as murky as it is today. We are making history – but in all the wrong ways.  War in Europe for the first time in 75 years.  Inflation hitting a 40-year high.  US politics as divisive as they’ve been since the Vietnam War (some would say Civil). The emergence of China as a global economic powerhouse creating a new and uncertain geopolitical calculus. The first pandemic in 100+ years, easing haltingly into an endemic. The US reaches record-level peacetime debt-to-GDP.  And, as if all that weren’t enough, we may be nearing a planetary tipping point with carbon intensity.

As we noted in our last letter, doing nothing in response to new information is an active decision. We take the same counsel that we give our clients: In times of uncertainty, be disciplined in adhering to policy and process. Rather than being reactive, lower your center of gravity and exercise patience as you prepare to be opportunistic.

Below, we share our thinking on some of the more dramatic current events and their possible investment implications. We also summarize portfolio adjustments we have made to date to strengthen our – and your – positioning in the face of such unpredictability.