United Church Funds looking to broaden investment in Beyond Fossil Fuels Fund
The Beyond Fossil Fuels Fund, an investment offering of United Church Funds (UCF), recently celebrated its first birthday, launching in November 2014 to live into a General Synod resolution that urged divestment, along with other strategies, from fossil fuel companies as a way to confront climate change.
The fund opened last year with $20 million in seed money, but it currently has just 31 investors, compared to nearly 1,000 clients of UCF, an investment arm of the United Church of Christ. Of those 31 investors, only 11 of them are local churches.
“Despite the outpouring of support for the General Synod resolution, UCF has not had very many investors elect to invest in the Beyond Fossil Fuels Fund, nor the Beyond Fossil Fuels Balanced Fund. We need the United Church of Christ to live into its pronouncements by investing in this fund. Then we will be able to achieve our goals of further divesting the Beyond Fossil Fuels Fund,” said Donald Hart, UCF president.
The Beyond Fossil Fuels Fund invests in the largest U.S. companies, while avoiding companies that produce oil, coal or gas. To make it easy for churches and institutions to diversify their investments, UCF also created the Beyond Fossil Fuels Balanced Fund, which combines the U.S.-based Beyond Fossil Fuels Fund, international stocks, and U.S. fixed income (bonds).
Because of those fixed income and international stocks, the Beyond Fossil Fuels Balanced Fund has had exposures to fossil fuel companies to date, something that investors are aware of at the time of investment. While the fund still removes some of the largest sources of profit from fossil fuel companies, UCF is now looking to remove those sources of profit from the fund entirely by broadening the divestment of international stocks and fixed income assets (bonds) of coal, gas and oil companies.
In order to diversify the Beyond Fossil Fuels Balanced Fund, UCF needs investments that top $50 million. It currently has about $45 million.
“It unfortunately is an apt adage, but we need the UCC to ‘put its money where its mouth is’ and support the Beyond Fossil Fuels Funds so that we can continue to offer this product and so that we can continue to live out UCF’s commitment to climate,” said Katie McCloskey, UCF’s director of social responsibility.
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