Christoph Degen, managing director of proFonds, photographed by Kostas Maros

Money with a conscience

The impact of charitites' investments

Dear reader,

Almost 2,000 years ago, the Roman emperor Vespa­sian told his son that ‘pecu­nia non olet’, or ‘money doesn’t stink’. How right he was. Nowa­days, enor­mous sums are moved around digi­tally, leaving no trace. And yet, this state­ment may well be more contro­ver­sial at the moment than ever, parti­cu­larly for chari­ties. It starts with the dona­ti­ons they receive: should a charity accept a dona­tion from anyone, no matter how the money was earned? We can all agree that the answer is no. This question is a little trickier: if you have money, should you also ask what money is allo­wed to do? 

The topic of ‘sustaina­bi­lity’ is now some­thing that chari­ties consi­der when inve­sting their funds, and it has really taken off. Chari­ties are in a parti­cu­larly expo­sed posi­tion because of their non-profit status. Repu­ta­tion is no longer the only thing at stake: nowa­days, sustaina­bi­lity crite­ria can play a role in an investment’s valua­tion. What should a charity be allo­wed to do with its money? It’s a chal­len­ging question to answer. Despite nega­tive inte­rest rates and the social pres­sure to make sustainable invest­ments, many chari­ties need to preserve their wealth, and, in fact, have to gene­rate a profit to fulfil their purpose. It is a tricky dilemma that doesn’t always have a satis­fac­tory outcome.

In this issue, you can read fasci­na­ting reflec­tions on finance that will (hope­fully!) give you plenty of food for thought.

I hope that reading it is an inspi­ring expe­ri­ence!
Peter Buss

StiftungSchweiz is committed to enabling a modern philanthropy that unites and excites people and has maximum impact with minimal time and effort.

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