12.11.2019

Administering donations sustainably and responsibly

Interview with Catherine Baud-Lavigne

When you entrust us with donations, it is paramount that they be administered sustainably and responsibly, which is why we work exclusively with professional, recognised partner NGOs. We have also introduced monitoring mechanisms to ensure that donations are used in the most relevant and effective manner.

Given that the reconstruction projects we fund span several years and that funding is provided in tranches, we invest conservatively all donations not immediately distributed.

Catherine Baud Lavigne, Deputy Managing Director and Head of Finance & Administration at Swiss Solidarity, explains what this means in concrete terms. Find out about how we administer donations sustainably and responsibly:

How does Swiss Solidarity ensure that its investments are in line with its values of solidarity and responsibility?

Two years ago, Swiss Solidarity introduced a Responsible Investment Charter which sets out the principles which guide our foundation’s investments to ensure that they are in line with its values. This Charter is provided to the banks and financial partners we work with, and we periodically verify that its principles are being upheld. In fact, we have mandated a firm specialising in the field of sustainable development to help us enforce the application of the Charter.

 

Which Charter values does Swiss Solidarity apply when investing in a business?

Swiss Solidarity seeks to ensure that the donations with which it is entrusted are carefully managed, while supporting a fairer, more sustainable economy. Addressing ESG (Ethical, Social, Governance) criteria is one way to ensure that Swiss Solidarity invests only in businesses whose activities do not run counter to the humanitarian and social principles we advocate as a foundation championing humanitarian and social action.

 

Is investing in certain businesses strictly ruled out?

We have indeed excluded certain industries, such as munitions and pornography. We also bar highly controversial businesses, especially those associated with human rights abuses and child labour. We also avoid businesses known to be responsible for significant environmental damage.

 

What have you learned since the Charter was first introduced?

Introducing the Charter led to very pertinent, in-depth reflection in this area, both in conjunction with our financial partners and within our own departments. At our behest, our managers adjusted the foundation’s investment mandates to align them with our Charter and uphold the imposed criteria, while continuing to identify the best possible investment opportunities. This led us to modify our investment portfolio. While it did not come without a cost, the new investments proved to be wise.

 

Has the Charter withstood the test of time or does it require changes? In the latter case, which ones?

This Charter was adopted in 2017, at which time we were one of the first foundations to take a clear stance in favour of sustainable investment policies. Since then, the theme of responsible finance has taken off in a range of areas. Many, many banks and foundations have addressed this topic and are working hard to achieve it. The media have dedicated a great deal of coverage to the topic. With respect to Swiss Solidarity, we hope to promote responsible investment even more actively and hope to foster innovative approaches which strengthen the environmental and social impact of our investments.