Investment Strategies

MCF's investment strategy is designed to achieve superior returns while moderating risk to enable donors to maximize their philanthropic impact.

To meet the philanthropic objectives of donor funds, investments can be made in one or more of six professionally managed investment pools. Within each pool, MCF hires managers who specialize in particular asset classes to ensure that there is superior performance and adequate diversification. The goal is to benefit from a range of expertise from managers in a way that would be impractical and cost-prohibitive for individual investors.

Donors establishing funds can suggest that assets be invested in any proportion in the six investment pools. For example, for no risk to principal, funds are generally invested solely in the money market pool. Endowed funds, whose objective is to preserve the ability of grants to sustain their financial impact over time, typically split their investments by allocating 75% to either of the equity pools and 25% into the fixed income pool.

Equity Pool

The equity portfolio seeks to earn strong long term returns by allocating its assets to a well diversified mix of US equities, international equities, and hedge funds. Historically, this type of portfolio has earned higher returns than fixed income or money market instruments. At the same time, equity portfolios assume larger amounts of risk. During shorter periods, it is quite possible for the portfolio to produce lower returns than the fixed income or money market portfolios. Therefore, the equity portfolio is particularly appropriate for philanthropic assets with a longer term time horizon and should serve as the primary source of long term portfolio growth.

The aggregate investment management fee for this pool is 0.97% (this can vary somewhat, since some managers within this pool are under an incentive program regarding their fees). All returns are net of investment manager fees.

Marin Community Foundation Equity Pool Managers

  • 3G Radar
  • 747 Capital
  • Aberdeen Asset Management Inc.
  • Accolade Partners
  • Actis GP LLP
  • Adage Capital Management, L.P.
  • Artisan Partners
  • Bayberry Capital
  • Brown Capital
  • Canyon Capital Advisors LLC
  • Cevian Capital
  • Champlain Investment Partners, LLC
  • Darlington Partners LP
  • Ecosystem Integrity Management, LLC
  • Eightfold Capital
  • Elephant Asset Management
  • Forager Capital
  • Fosse Capital Partners LLP
  • FPR Partners
  • Generation Investment Management LLP
  • Gobi Investment Fund Ltd
  • Half Sky Fund Ltd
  • Hengistbury Investment Partners
  • HCIF
  • Himalaya Capital
  • The Investment Fund for Foundations
  • Ichigo Japan Fund
  • iShares
  • Kontiki Capital
  • Metropolitan Real Estate Equity Management, LLC
  • Prime Finance Partners
  • Schwab
  • Soapstone Capital LP
  • Tenzing Global
  • The Vanguard Group, Inc.
  • Van Eck Associates Corporation
  • Verdis Investment Management
  • Wellington Management
  • Westwood Global Investments
  • Working Capital

    FutureFirst Pool

    The objective for the FutureFirst Pool is to invest its assets in global equity securities that produce long-term growth and that reflect mission-centric values by avoiding investments in fossil fuel and tobacco. Additionally, FutureFirst will actively commit to investment strategies that carry a high level of social and environmental impact, and will vote proxies based on both U.S. and international criteria developed by Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS). FutureFirst will designate 10% for specific impact investments, and in the interim will hold the assets in an Aperio Global Carbon- and Tobacco-Free Portfolio.

    The aggregate investment fee for the management of this pool is 0.59% (this can vary somewhat, since some managers within this pool are under an incentive program regarding their fees). All returns are net of investment manager fees.

    Fixed Income Pool

    The objective of the fixed income portfolio is to seek yields that are more durable and usually higher than those available from the Money Market portfolio. It is suited for funds that can accept the market-value volatility (unrealized gains or losses) associated with fluctuation in interest rates, changes in credit quality, and currency fluctuations in order to earn a higher level of income over time than is generally available in money market securities.

    The investment management fee for this pool is 0.38%. All returns are net of investment manager fees.

    Marin Community Foundation Fixed Income Investment Managers

    • Colchester Global Investors
    • Dodge & Cox Funds
    • Garcia Hamilton
    • iShares
    • Mondrian Investment Partners Limited
    • Payden Short Bond Fund
    • The Vanguard Group, Inc.

    Enhanced Cash Pool

    This pool is designed to improve on the returns provided by a typical money market vehicle. Its goal is to maximize current income while preserving capital and providing daily liquidity. For greater diversification than typical money market investments, the pool invests in money market as well as short maturity fixed-income securities. It differs from traditional money market funds by investing in longer maturities and lower-rated credits to attempt to generate excess relative returns. Unlike a money market account, the Enhanced Cash Pool's market value will fluctuate.

    The investment management fee for this pool is 0.26%. All returns are net of investment manager fees.

    Money Market Pool

    The Money Market portfolio contains U.S. Government securities with an average portfolio maturity of less than 90 days and FDIC insured certificates of deposit with a duration of one year or less. The Money Market portfolio is designed to make liquid assets available in order to meet annual cash requirements. It also provides a vehicle for donors who would like their contributions to earn income at current money market rates while ensuring the preservation of principal. The rate of income varies depending on short-term interest rates.

    CommunityFirst Pool

    The objective of the CommunityFirst Pool is to invest its assets in loans to nonprofit organizations within the local community. It provides an effective option for those seeking the liquidity and low risk of a money market investment, with guaranteed higher returns (0.25% over the rate paid on the PIMCO Government Money Market Fund, to a maximum of 2.0%). While it offers a lower interest rate than in the past, it will nevertheless compare favorably to other money market investment options. There is also no potential loan loss risk for individual donors. 

    Additionally, the CommunityFirst Pool provides the opportunity to engage in local impact investing on a variety of projects such as affordable housing, workforce training and children’s centers. To ensure efficient use of funds, the total volume of investments in this pool will be capped at $3 million.

    There is no investment fee associated with this investment option.

    How It Works

    A local nonprofit contacts MCF to apply for a loan as it is unable to go through traditional financial institutions due to tight restrictions or perceived risk.

    The loan application is reviewed and upon recommendation is sent to the MCF President and MCF Board of Directors for consideration.

    Upon approval, the nonprofit receives either a short or long-term loan.

    They also have the opportunity to access hands-on financial training and technical assistance, should they be interested.

    Repayments made are returned to the CommunityFirst Pool for future lending.

    Donors can invest a portion of their assets into the CommunityFirst Pool.

    In so doing, they are supporting local community efforts in Marin County.

    They will also be earning a modest rate of return in a low-risk environment.

    When the loan is repaid, assets are returned to the Pool and they are reinvested for future lending.

    The Loan Fund has had a 0% default rate over the last 20 years

    Loans supporting Marin nonprofits range in size from $300,000 to $2 million

    There is no minimum initial investment for a donor; there is no investment fee


    Performance of investment pools through August 31, 2023 (net of investment fees, with benchmarks provided for comparisons):

    1 Month Quarter 1 Year 3 Years 5 Years 7 Years 10 Year
    Equity Pool -2.3% 5.7% 11.5% 7.4% 5.7% 7.8% 7.3%
    70% MSCI ACWI/30% HFRI Fund of Funds* -2.0% 5.3% 10.9% 6.4% 6.4% 7.8% 7.1%
    Future First Pool -2.2% 6.7% 14.3% 7.3% 8.2% 10.4% 11.0%
    MSCI AC World Index -2.8% 6.6% 14.0% 7.2% 7.5% 9.3% 8.6%
    Fixed Income Pool -1.0% -0.8% -0.3% -3.8% 0.6% 0.6% 1.5%
    Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Index -0.6% -1.1% -1.2% -4.4% 0.5% 0.3% 1.5%
    Enhanced Cash Pool 0.5% 1.8% 4.9% 1.5% 1.8% 2.0% 1.9%
    Money Market Pool 0.4% 1.2% 4.1% 1.5% 1.5% 1.4% 1.0%
    U.S. T-Bills 0.5% 1.3% 4.3% 1.5% 1.7% 1.5% 1.1%
    Community First Pool** 0.0% 0.4% 1.8% 0.8% 1.2% N/A N/A

    *MSCI ACWI - Morgan Stanley Capital International All Country World Index (a weighted index designed to provide a broad measure of equity- market performance throughout the world, comprised of stocks from both developed and emerging markets) HFRI Fund of Funds – Hedge Fund Research, Inc. Fund of Funds Composite Index (an index that tracks the performance of hedge fund of fund managers) ** This option is available until it reaches a cap of $3 million in investments.

    For questions about investments & finances, contact

    Sid Hartman

    Chief Financial & Operating Officer

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