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charities take SRI on board as regulation looms

March 2004

The proportion of UK charities claiming to consider ethical issues when investing money has risen from roughly a half to almost two-thirds in just a year.

A study of 234 charity funds that between them control £17billion ($32bn) of assets found 60 per cent now say they ‘take into account socially responsible, ethical or environmental issues’ when deciding on investments. The equivalent figure in a similar study last year was 47 per cent.

The UK government’s stated intention to introduce legislation requiring large charities to detail their socially responsible investment policies is the most likely explanation for the rise, says the Charity Fund Partnership, the independent market research firm which carried out the study.

The Home Office has confirmed it favours the idea, proposed in 2002 by a government strategy unit, that charities with an annual income of more than £1million declare their SRI stance in annual reports.

The Home Office says a draft bill will be introduced this summer and is expected to become law in spring 2005.

The 2004 survey of charitable, educational, endowment and other funds also found the percentage of charitable funds that never vote their shareholdings at company annual meetings has fallen from 23 to 15 per cent.

However, Kevin Sims, managing director of the Charity Fund Partnership, said: ‘While this improvement is to be welcomed, it does mean that almost one in seven funds is still not exercising, either directly or on the fund’s behalf, the voting rights to which they are entitled.’




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