Unlocking the Power of the Proxy

Unlocking the Power of the Proxy

To help foundations play more active roles in the environmental, social, and corporate governance policies of publicly held companies, As You Sow and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors published Unlocking the Power of the Proxy: How Active Foundation Proxy Voting Can Protect Endowments and Boost Philanthropic Missions.

American foundations have total endowments of more than $700 billion, much of it invested in the equities of U. S. companies, putting them on par with other large institutional investors.

Yet most foundations have ignored opportunities inherent in using the proxy vote to engage management on crucial decisions and, in turn, protect the investments on which their missions depend. 60% of respondents to a Council on Foundations survey reported that they delegate proxy voting to investment managers, who often automatically vote in accordance with management’s recommendations.

Unlocking the Power of the Proxy walks readers through the myriad issues relating to proxy voting, from the roles played by various entities such as investment managers and public pensions to definitions of key terms and a discussion of related legal issues.

The guidebook includes step-by-step advice for developing formal voting guidelines and policies, including how to move the guidelines through potential internal roadblocks; it then explains how to implement guidelines once they are approved. This guidebook gives readers examples of philanthropic organizations that have taken leadership positions regarding active proxy voting, and directs readers to additional resources.

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