Via: Philanthropy Women

By: Tim Lehnert

The Texas Women’s Foundation (TWF) recently announced that 100 percent of its $36 million dollars in financial assets are now invested in a “gendered impact” portfolio.

The gender impact strategy seeks a strong return on investment while having the investment itself—and not just the return that accrues to Texas Women’s Foundation—benefit women and girls. This approach makes TWF the first and only women’s fund or foundation to move all of its financial assets—which include endowments, operating investments and donor-advised funds—into gendered impact.

“We hope that we can inspire others to become part of what is now a global movement around impact investing,” says Roslyn Dawson Thompson, Texas Women’s Foundation president and CEO. “Specifically for women’s funds and foundations, we can demonstrate how, by mission-aligning 100% of our assets with our philanthropy, we can powerfully accelerate the change we seek in the world.”

As a result of TWF’s bold move, Lisa Simmons, President of the Harold Simmons Foundation, and her sister, Serena Simmons Connelly, foundation Director of Philanthropy, have opened a $10.5 million donor-advised fund with TWF. “Lisa and I were eager to be part of Texas Women’s Foundation’s groundbreaking gendered impact strategy,” says Simmons Connelly. “We are excited to see how much more can be achieved by putting financial capital and philanthropic capital to work toward gender equality and greater opportunities for women and girls.”

Gender impact investing can mean many things, including investing in companies that are owned or led by women, backing enterprises whose products or services improve women’s lives, and investing in companies that commit to gender equity in their operations and culture, and that evaluate their suppliers’ and partners’ performance on gender issues. Like “green investing,” it is sometimes easier to determine what to stay away from, rather than what to invest in, particularly in the case of complex multinationals.

“Our journey to be the first women’s foundation aligning 100% of our assets with our mission has been many years in the making,” said Dawson Thompson, and noted that the  “tremendous commitment by our Investment Advisory Committee and Board to the ‘all-in’ strategy” helped make the many steps of the endeavor possible, “from selecting the asset management team, to deep engagement in the gendered portfolio design for strong financial performance and significant social impact.

TWF’s gendered portfolio is managed by Morgan Stanley’s Graystone Consulting and is fully diversified across asset classes. Every fund within the portfolio is evaluated according to financial benchmarks, as well as gendered impact. One measure of an investment’s gendered impact is its focus on one or more of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that specifically and disproportionately affect women and girls.

The Dallas-based Texas Women’s Foundation (formerly Dallas Women’s Foundation) was founded in 1985 and is one of the world’s largest women’s foundations. It makes more than $6.3 million in annual investments in Texas’s women and girls through research, advocacy, grants and programs. The Fund bills itself as “the leading driver of meaningful social and economic change for women, girls and families in Texas.” It has grown rapidly in recent years, awarding $27.6 million in grants since 2013, including over seven million dollars in strategic grants supporting Texas women’s economic security and leadership.