The charity sector is undergoing a dramatic change. And the challenges are many and varied. Brexit, institutional scandals and the question of how to engage millennials have all prompted intense discussions on trustee boards across the country. In what are uncertain times, maintaining funding and holding sufficient reserves has never been more important.
However, this is also a vibrant and exciting time to be involved in the sector. As an investment firm managing capital for a number of charities, Smith & Williamson has seen the journey of ethical and ESG (environmental, social and governance) issues develop from a niche area to a mainstream concern. It’s incredible just how entrenched these trends have become, given they were hardly spoken of just a few years ago. And charities’ adoption of ESG and ethical investing comes at an opportune time for the sector. Following the scandals of the past year, reputational risk is a hot topic for many trustees and their critics. Scrutiny is intense — investments need to generate a return and be true to a charity’s ideals.
With all this in mind, now seems like a good time to take stock. This is why we partnered with Charity Times to survey trustees’ views on reserves, risk, benchmarking, and ethical and ESG issues. We wanted to look at charities’ investment strategies in the context of the wider issues they are facing — developing a more rounded picture of the sector today. Charity Times’ editor Lauren Weymouth chaired an expert panel to discuss some of the survey’s most notable results. We hope you find these first-hand insights into the industry’s key changes, challenges, and opportunities of interest.
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