How We Invest

OCAF is funded with a $20 million endowment from the federal government as part of the Low Carbon Canada Cities (LC3) initiative managed by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. While the endowment generates the income we need to do granting, hire our team, pay for research and do advocacy to reduce carbon in Ottawa, it is also a significant tool available to us to meet our mission through responsible and impact investing.

Impact Investing

Up to 15% of OCAF’s endowment will be allocated to Impact Investing, which is defined as the intentional investment of capital in assets and organizations to generate positive social or environmental impacts, as well as a financial return. In OCAF’s case, the focus will be on carbon reduction and community benefit. OCAF will work with our investment partners to identify critical needs and pathways to scale up low-carbon solutions so that our impact investing can inform our programming and granting. Reciprocally, OCAF grants and programs will help unlock investment opportunities.

Primary investment criteria for OCAF’s impact investments:

  • Strong carbon reduction potential
    • Helps overcome barriers to scale-up / catalyze replication & transformation
    • Preferably in the Greater Ottawa area
  • A market-based financial return
  • Opportunity to co-invest with others to leverage impact
  • Strong community benefits potential (e.g., to enhance affordability, equity and resilience)

The Endowment

Our $20 million endowment is professionally managed at the Ottawa Community Foundation (OCF) and forms part of the $180 million of donor funds they have under management. OCF has been a leader in Responsible Investing since 2010 and is a signatory to the United Nations Principles of Responsible Investing (UNPRI). OCF is one of 3,000 UNPRI signatories globally who together manage more than $100 trillion is assets committed to incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment selection. OCF takes a best-in-class approach, investing only in the top players in a particular sector in terms of ESG performance. By being shareholders in these best players, we have influence over corporate behaviour, and exercise that influence by how we vote our proxies and engage with management to constantly improve their carbon footprint.

The Foundation is currently reviewing its strategic asset allocation and plans to put more emphasis on assessing the climate-related risk to all its investments and reducing the carbon intensity of the portfolio, while ensuring it remains best in class. More information about OCF’s Responsible Investing including their investment policy is available here.

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