Where is the UUCC Endowment Fund invested and why?

Where is the UUCC Endowment Fund invested and why?

The UUCC Endowment Fund was founded in 1962 to provide a permanent source of funding to support the operations of UUCC. We invite you to learn more about what the Endowment Fund is here, and how it contributes to UUCC’s annual budget here.

Initially, UUCC’s funds were invested with a group of investment brokers who managed the funds. In 2019, UUCC’s Endowment Board made the decision to invest with UU Common Endowment Fund (UUCEF) because it invests in a socially responsible way. UUCEF ($243.1 Million as of July 1, 2023) invests funds from 334 UU congregations and the UUA itself. Of this, UUCC owns $656,307 as of December 31, 2023. At its current size, UUCEF has enough funds under management to potentially influence the choices made by the companies it invests in.

In June 2023, a proposal was made at the UUA General Assembly (GA) concerning the UUCEF calling for “Complete Divestment from the Fossil Fuel Industry and Subsequent Reparations.” Spearheaded by a group of young adults, the proposal called upon UUCEF to immediately divest from all fossil fuel companies and all companies financially related to these firms. In addition, the proposal called for reparations payments to “Indigenous tribes and communities who are the ancestral and continued stewards of this land, and the descendants of enslaved Black and Brown people who were forced to create the physical wealth of the so-called United States of America.”

The proposal was voted down by delegates representing local congregations (about 60% against). Below is a summary of reasons given for why it was voted down and how the UUCEF advisory board will be operating going forward:

  • Immediate divestment would be costly, as it would require both selling and subsequently investing without reference to market conditions.
  • Many of the specific divestments included in the proposal had already occurred as a result of a 2014 proposal at GA to divest from the Carbon Underground 200 (CU 200) firms.
  • The UUCEF investment board has as a priority influencing business decisions of firms in, and related to carbon related industries—CU 200, fossil fuel service firms, and financial firms investing in the fossil fuel industry or services—calling for their decisions to decrease climate change.
  • UUCEF efforts include:
    • Disinvesting from the CU 200
    • Shareholder advocacy efforts in targeted firms where UUCEF’s voice can make a difference. This requires that UUCEF be invested in the firm, despite the firm’s involvement in the fossil fuel industry in some way.
    • Joining coalitions to support UUCEF’s advocacy efforts.
    • Disinvesting when either there are others who will carry forward priorities UUCEF agrees with or where UUCEF is too small a presence to have an impact.
    • With respect to mutual funds, Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) and pooled funds, UUCEF screens these funds for consistency with our UU priorities, with a low percentage cap for the fund’s participation in the fossil fuel industry, and other priorities.
  • With respect to reparations
    • The reparations proposed would potentially affect the UUCEF’s accordance with its current tax-exempt status, possibly even forcing the UUCEF to liquidate and close.
    • The reparations proposed would come exclusively from UUA, not congregation funds, materially affecting the fund distributions that currently help fund the UUA’s general activities.
    • UUCEF has targeted investments in minority and indigenous small business efforts as part of its equity and inclusion priority.

In the aftermath of the GA vote, the UUCC Endowment Board affirms that the UUCCEF’s efforts to address climate change, dismantle inequity, and participate in socially-responsible stewardship of congregational funds are in accordance with UUCC’s values and mission, as well as the Endowment Board’s goals. The combination of risk, return, administrative cost, and priorities of UUCEF, as demonstrated through their response to this proposal, confirms the UUCC Endowment Board’s choice to invest our endowment funds with UUCEF.

If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to learn more about UUCC’s Endowment Fund, please contact endowment@uucolumbia.net.

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