How We Invest

Our Philosophy
We believe in total portfolio activation. By this we mean that we deploy our capital in all forms—grants, corpus investments, intellectual capital, and staff engagement—to promote a healthier population and planet by reducing harmful chemicals in our everyday lives. In addition to our grant-making activities, we also align our investment strategy with our mission.

Our Mission-Aligned Investing
As much as possible, we try to make investments that adhere to Forsythia’s mission: to promote healthier people and environments by reducing harmful chemicals in our lives. We have determined that mission-aligned investments should meet at least one of the below criteria:

  • Further or be consistent with the foundation’s charitable purposes
  • Have the potential to demonstrably improve a sector or product that poses significant human health risk and/or environmental harms
  • Align with the precautionary principle
  • Support activities that advance “The 12 Principles of Green Chemistry” and have a demonstrated commitment to adhere to as many such principles as possible
  • Be reviewed and approved by a board investment committee that includes at least one non-board member, such as the foundation’s financial advisor

Safer Made
In the foundation’s work promoting green chemistry, we have found that our non-governmental grantees and partners face serious challenges trying to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals and products because there is a lack of safer alternatives to replace them. To help address this critical gap, the foundation recognizes the need to harness the power of commerce to catalyze green chemistry design and adoption.

Consistent with these principles, the board of directors voted in 2015 to invest in Safer Made, an early-stage venture capital fund dedicated to advancing innovation and commercialization of technologies, products, and processes that are safer for people and the natural world because they reduce or eliminate the use of toxic chemicals in consumer products and supply chains. Investing in Safer Made not only addresses the foundation’s strategic vision but aligns well with the board’s belief that it is possible to invest in entities that both deliver market-rate returns and promote a healthier world.

To learn more about Safer Made:

  • Read foundation President Alison Carlson’s call for safer alternatives to toxics through investing in Safer Made through her guest blog post with Rachel’s Network, a community of women at the intersection of environmental advocacy, philanthropy, and leadership.
  • Click here for the latest on Safer Made’s efforts to find safer materials.

Our Values-Based Investing
Beyond mission-aligned investing, we strive to align our investments with our values of environmental sustainability and social good. Our goal over time is to fully align our portfolio with these values as more opportunities arise. To this end, the foundation was pleased to join the Divest-Invest campaign, to commit to divest its portfolio of fossil fuel-based investments and invest in safer alternatives.