The Binghamton University Foundation raises funds and provides essential support to advance the purpose and mission of Binghamton University. Volunteers and staff working on behalf of the Foundation foster and maintain partnerships with alumni, parents, friends and members of the University community.
The Foundation educates others about charitable giving, matches University fundraising priorities with donors' philanthropic intentions and provides stewardship of all assets held in trust for the benefit of the University.
Foundation services include accounting, advancement information technology, the Binghamton University Forum and gift and donor records.
Posted June 2020
Recently, the Foundation board has received questions from a group of students relating to the board’s policies for ethical investment. The inquiries raise distinct issues relating to the relationship of the Foundation board to the University, the Foundation’s financial transparency and the investment standards that the board uses for money donated to the Foundation. Each of these issues is addressed in turn:
The Binghamton University Foundation
The Binghamton University Foundation does not run or direct Binghamton University. The Foundation is not owned or controlled by the University or the State of New York.
The Foundation is a private not-for-profit entity that is separate from the University. The Foundation raises funds and provides support to advance the purpose and mission of the University.
An all-volunteer board of directors governs the Foundation. All board members donate money for the benefit of the University. No elected member of the Foundation board is paid anything for service to the Foundation or the University community.
The Foundation board has a nominating committee that advises the board on potential members and focuses on the capacity of any potential board member to advance the mission of the Foundation board in supporting the University.
Binghamton University Foundation transparency
The Binghamton University Foundation has to meet the transparency rules set by New York state, and it does this. The Foundation website includes information on the size of the Foundation, its investment return, asset allocation, investment objectives and how its data compares to that of more than 1,900 other colleges and universities.
The Foundation board has a written conflict of interest policy, and every year board members acknowledge in writing that they are complying with that policy. These statements are filed with the State University of New York system, which also reviews them.
In addition to filing conflict of interest statements, the Foundation annually files Federal Form 990 reports with the IRS.
The Binghamton University Foundation's investment policy as to donated money
One of the missions of the Binghamton University Foundation is to use its investment portfolio to provide long-term financial security so that money donated to the Foundation can provide ongoing support to activities and programs that benefit Binghamton University. For example, over the past five years, the Foundation has provided $60 million to support the University, which includes an almost 40% increase in support for financial aid and scholarships for students.
The Foundation hires outside, independent investment managers who advise the Foundation board’s investment committee on funds into which it can invest the donation money raised by the Foundation. The Foundation does not control the individual investments made by those investment funds. The focus of the Foundation’s investment policy has been on placing funds donated to the Foundation in diversified, long-term investment funds that maximize risk-adjusted investment returns, net of fees charged by the investment managers.
Recent inquiries about the Binghamton University Foundation's investments
The Binghamton University Foundation strongly supports the ongoing efforts of Binghamton University to reduce the carbon footprint of the campus toward the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.
The University has made sustainability a priority. The University defines sustainability broadly to encompass human outcomes as well as environmental ones.
As applied by Binghamton University, sustainability is about meeting the needs of humanity in the present without negatively impacting future generations from meeting their needs due to environmental destruction. As such, sustainability has social equity, economic and environmental dimensions.
The University reports on its efforts in the areas of research, academics, infrastructure, and policies and practice to address sustainability concerns, and supports that reporting with data that the University reports to (and which data is evaluated by) the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) (to which 989 colleges and universities now report data). The University’s sustainability progress is available online.
The University was one of the first campuses to sign the President’s Climate Commitment and has had a Climate Action Plan since 2009. The University also has been listed in the Princeton Review Guide for 334 Green Colleges every year since 2009.
In addition to responding to climate change, the University has applied supply chain sustainability and human rights standards to apparel and other purchases by the University.
The Foundation has received inquiries about whether it weighs nonfinancial factors into its investment decisions. This raises two issues that universities across the country have been addressing: university disassociation policies and so-called “ESG” investing.
- Disassociation policies mandate that if a university decides not to invest in a particular company or practice that it do so by fully disassociating the university (including its foundation) with that company or practice. If a university determines that, on balance, it cannot fully disassociate itself without harming the university or its mission, then it will not take that action. The Foundation raises funds and provides support to advance the purpose and mission of the University. At this time, the University does not have a disassociation policy. If the University adopted that kind of policy, the Foundation would work with the University to understand the investment-related costs and risks associated with any specific disassociation proposal that the University might consider.
- ESG investing uses established environmental (“E”), social (“S”), and governance (“G”) criteria to assess potential investments. Although ESGs are important to society, there has been a great deal of debate about whether so-called ESG investing requires investors to give up potential investment benefits, and if so, how much. This information is important to the Foundation as stewards of the University’s endowment, including as it makes decisions about both investment managers and investment fund opportunities. The Foundation board has instructed its investment committee to gather and report on information from its investment manager about sustainability ratings, and the potential costs and impacts associated with ESG investing, including so that the investment committee can take that information into account in making its decisions.