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Cultural institutions across the country face a growing chorus of questions about how they invest the collective $64 billion held in their endowments. The Guide: what cultural institutions need to know about investing for values and mission is the first primer on impact investing specifically for leaders of museums and other cultural institutions. 

Making the Case

Intended to support C-Suite executives and trustees at museums and other cultural institutions, The Guide answers foundational questions such as What is Impact Investing? Does impact investing mean sacrificing financial returns?  Why do institutions engage in impact investing?

Dispelling the misconception that considering social and environmental risk factors lowers financial returns, The Guide shares evidence across asset classes and from a range of institutional investors affirming competitive performance and out-performance through SRI (socially-responsible investment) and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance) strategies. 

The Guide describes how impact investing can help organizations put diversity, equity, and inclusion commitments into action, and makes the case for cultural institutions to invest in the creative economy. The report includes lessons from first-mover cultural institutions, along with examples of relevant impact investing opportunities in the creative economy.

Featured in The Guide

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts moved 25% of its $300 million endowment to a socially-responsible strategy in 2019.

Brooklyn Museum has been considering the relationship between its endowment and mission since 2014, and in 2020 the board committed to a deeper exploration.

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) made a commitment to divest from fossil fuels in 2015, and reports that the shift generated approximately $700,000 of investment gains from 2016 to 2020.

Creative Capital invested from its endowment into the Local Initiative Support Corporation NYC Inclusive Creative Economy Fund.

Louvre Museum has allocated 5% of its €250 million Endowment Fund to socially-responsible investments since 2018 with a focus on artisan and traditional craft businesses, cultural tourism, cultural heritage and education.

Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) has shifted a portion of its small but growing endowment to an ESG investing strategy, and most new funds raised for its endowment will be placed in ESG-screened accounts.

Souls Grown Deep Foundation adopted a 100% for impact investing policy in 2019.

The Walters Art Museum began impact investing efforts in 2015, when its new strategic plan made a commitment to diversity and inclusion as guiding principles. As part of that commitment, the board’s investment committee launched an investment manager diversity initiative, placing over 10% of its endowment with diverse-owned managers.


Barron’s: Future Returns: Upstart Co-Lab to Create Inclusive Creative Economy Fund

Forbes: Upstart Co-Lab Aims To Create A $100 Million Portfolio Of Creative Economy Funds, Companies

The New York Times: A Push to Invest in the Arts Grows Stronger

Forbes: Amid This Year’s Struggle, New And Tougher Companies Are Born In The $900M Creative Economy

Monocle: Worthy Investment

Financial Times: Museums should lead in socially responsible investing

Pioneers Post: Global coalition explores ideas for new impact investment fund to back creative enterprises

ImpactAlpha: Building a personal portfolio of impact investments in the creative economy

Fast Company: Why Impact Investing Funds Need To Invest In Creativity

Stanford Social Innovation Review: Capital for Creativity

The New York Times: Investing in Creativity, and in the Greater Good

Real Leaders: The Innovator Connecting Impact Investing to The Creative Economy

Barron’s: Investing in the Creative Economy is a Boon to Artists and Communities

ImpactAlpha: Investments in the creative economy will help drive an inclusive COVID recovery

Real Leaders: The Power of Art, Design, Culture, Heritage and Creativity

The Art Newspaper: How museums can ethically invest their money

GenderSmart Investing: Is Impact Investing Repeating The Mistakes Of Investing? The Solution Is A Creative One

ImpactAlpha: Investment opportunities in expanding access and ownership in the creator economy

McKinsey & Company: How an alum is disrupting funding for creativity and culture