The Role and Approach of Our Investment Team
James Irvine, a pioneer in California agriculture, began the Foundation in 1937 with $5.6 million. That endowment has since grown to $2 billion, thanks to our investment partners, and continues to serve Californians today through our annual grantmaking. Our investment team works to preserve and grow this valuable legacy.
Increasing the value of our investment portfolio is our investment team’s key objective because it is those returns — and those returns alone — that fuel our grantmaking capability. To achieve this objective, our investment team partners with both established and emerging investment management leaders who share our commitment to generating returns that translate into new opportunities for the people of California.
We pride ourselves as strong partners with our investment managers, and we are driven by the following principles:
To learn more, download our investment brochure.
With $2.1 billion in assets, the Foundation made grants of $83 million in 2016 for the people of California.
Our grantmaking has grown steadily from $67 million in 2012 to $83 million in 2016 due to strong investment performance and a spending formula that dampens the payout volatility. This formula, based on a combination of the one year average of total assets and the prior year spending rate, is designed to smooth out short-term funding fluctuations so that we can plan properly and avoid disruptions in our grantmaking.
We maintain a long-term view with respect to the Foundation’s investments. Our objective is to earn enough through our investments to allow us to spend 5.5 percent of the Foundation’s endowment each year on grants and expenses while also allowing the real value of the endowment to grow. For more information on our investment policies, read the 2015 letter from our former CIO.
$83 million in grants in 2016
$2.1 billion in assets in 2016
5.5% yearly spending of the Foundation's endowment
We retain independent auditors to audit our annual financial statements. The auditors report to our board’s Audit Committee.
Financial Statements and Independent Auditors Report for year ending December 31, 2015. Our assets total $2.19 billion, a 2% increase from the previous year. We awarded $73.7 million in funds to grantees, and spent $11.4 million on program administration expenses.
Financial Statements and Independent Auditors Report for year ending December 31, 2014. Our assets total $2.13 billion, a 9% increase from the previous year. We awarded $73.5 million in funds to grantees, and spent $10.3 million on program administration expenses.
Financial Statements and Independent Auditors Report for year ending December 31, 2013. Our assets total $1.95 billion, a 13% increase from the previous year. We awarded $68.5 million in funds to grantees, and spent $9.3 million on program administration expenses.
As an independent, nonprofit foundation, The James Irvine Foundation files a federal tax return each year, known as Form 990-PF. In addition, as a consequence of some of our investments, we also file a corporate tax return, known as Form 990-T. These tax returns capture financial data, including the fair market value of all assets, an analysis of revenue and expenses, and a complete listing of grants paid.