Sixty percent of endowments and foundations in a new survey cited a slowdown in global growth as the biggest threat to their investment portfolio, compared with 21% of organizations that said this a year ago.
Investment consultant and private wealth advisor NEPC reported that 36% of survey participants said the economy was in a worse place, compared with 13% last year.
Respondents expressed less concern about geopolitical uncertainty and global inflation, and none about interest rates.
“Economic pressures weigh heavily on endowments’ and foundations’ minds as we approach the midpoint of 2019,” Catherine Konicki, partner and leader of NEPC’s endowments and foundations practice, said in a statement.
“As investment committees anticipate a potential global slowdown for the first time in a decade, it has never been more important to construct an investment portfolio balanced to withstand volatility.”
The online survey was conducted in March among higher education institutions, private foundations, public charities and nonprofit health care organizations.
Among other survey results, 38% of respondents said they had an impact investing program in place or planned to set one up within two years.
At the same time, they have not seen a significant shift from regular cash donations to cryptocurrency. Three in five organizations said they were unsure whether their donors were using digital currency, and the others said they had seen no change in the level of cryptocurrency donations.
The survey results also uncovered advances by nontraditional giving strategies. Twenty-three percent of respondents reported that donor-advised funds were detracting from direct cash donations. This has prompted some endowments and foundations to set up their own DAFs to adapt to donors’ changing giving behaviors, NEPC said.