Combined and Pooled Endowment Funds 2016 Investment Report
The 2016 fiscal year proved challenging for university endowments around the country, and Case Western Reserve was no exception. The investment return on the university’s combined endowment—that is, funds the institution manages as well as those held and managed by others—was -3.2 percent. While this result is similar to the Cambridge Associates’ -3.1 percent benchmark median return for peer institutions, it nevertheless is disappointing to university leadership and, it is likely, Case Western Reserve’s donors as well.
That said, the combined endowment’s three-year return of 5.5 percent did slightly exceed Cambridge Associates’ 5.2 percent peer median return for peer institutions over the same time period. Cambridge Associates is a global investment consulting firm that provides research and benchmarks across many funds and industries.
The Combined Endowment includes two categories of long-term resources. The first involves dollars the university directly manages, which constitute a significant majority of the total of commitments given to advance the university’s mission. This category is known as the “Endowment Pool.” The second category consists of contributions designated for Case Western Reserve that foundations or other organizations manage. These dollars are called “Funds Held By Others.” When the university adds the funds it manages to those held by others, the overall total is called the “Combined Endowment.”
Case Western Reserve deeply appreciates every gift to the university’s endowment. The university takes seriously its obligation to steward carefully all of the contributions the university receives. Meeting this responsibility requires a delicate balance of two priorities that sometimes can be in tension with one another: maximal growth and minimal risk. Commitments to the endowment are meant to advance aspects the university’s work both now and in perpetuity.