Responsible Investing at the Community Foundation of Ottawa

The Community Foundation of Ottawa is a leader among Canadian foundations in implementing a Responsible Investing (RI) strategy for its endowment. It is based on a philosophy of leveraging our investments to ensure they do more than just provide income for granting. We want to make sure our portfolio supports our mission to “have an enduring impact on communities” and that the values we espouse in our statement of principles are being honoured in our investments.

In April 2010, the Foundation’s Board of Governors approved a plan to incorporate RI principles in all security selections in our investment portfolio. The plan instructs our investment managers to consider environmental, social and governance issues, as well as financial concerns, when selecting and monitoring our investments.

These investment activities are driven by two core investment beliefs:

  • That responsible corporate behaviour with respect to environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues generally has a positive influence on long-term financial performance; and
  • That CFO’s mission is to nurture philanthropy and work with partners to have an enduring impact on communities. It values accountability, transparency, fairness and integrity in all of its activities. It expects these values to be reflected in the behaviour of the corporations in which we invest.

We have been guided in our efforts by the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI), a global association of asset owners and investment managers committed to investing responsibly. In November 2012, the Foundation became a PRI signatory, joining 1130 other member firms from 50 countries around the world with total assets over $30 trillion. They have developed a template of six Principles for Responsible Investing that emphasizes disclosure and transparency by corporations, and encourages investors to take a best-in-class approach rather than negative screening when selecting securities for investment.

The CFO Investment Policy, which outlines how all funds in our endowment are to be invested, now incorporates the PRI principles and the above core investment beliefs on the first page.

As part of this strategy, we are now working with our investment managers to ensure that our share proxies are voted at annual meetings in a manner consistent with our mission, encouraging companies that we own to be leaders in areas such as corporate governance, environmental sustainability, and employee and human rights.

For further information about our Responsible Investing activities, please contact Ron Olsen, Director of Finance and Administration at rolsen@cfo-fco.ca.

View the tenth anniversary PRI video for more information about how to become a signatory.