Case study: US Dominican Sisters develop Climate Solutions Fund


In this blog post, we are delighted to share how the Dominican Sisters in the US, a group of Catholic religious orders, worked together to develop their own Climate Solutions Fund, building upon their existing socially responsible investment programmes addressing the climate crisis.

First Steps

In the summer of 2013, a small group of international investors gathered in Scotland to work on climate finance concerns anticipating the work needed to make the Paris Agreement possible. Sr Pat Daly, a Dominican Sister who helped lead the work on climate change at The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) in the US, was invited to the meeting. This gathering of investors sharpened the urgency of taking action for Sr Pat, and she brought this reflection back to the broader Dominican community later that year.

Simultaneously, members of the Dominican Sisters Conference were preparing to meet regionally in anticipation of their 2015 National Convocation. Using the DVD produced by the Dominican Earth Council: Global Climate Change and the Praxis Cycle, Dominican Sisters across the US and beyond reflected on next steps to advance their climate work.

How the Dominican Sisters developed the first Climate Solutions Fund of its kind

While the Dominican Sisters were preparing for their 2015 National Convocation, The Earth Council proposed that all the Dominican congregations commit to climate finance with the integration of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). During the 2015 Convocation, this commitment was adopted and celebrated by every Dominican congregation. Six months later, The Earth Council realised that while a couple of congregations invested in fossil free funds, there were no investment products that provided the full integration of the SDGs.

The Earth Council proposed the formation of a Climate Finance Taskforce that would include Treasurers and investment advisory committee members to join the Earth Council in finding investment products. Reaching out to dozens of potential firms, the Task Force found that there were no products that would align with their needs, so the focus shifted to finding an investment firm who would develop products specifically for the Dominican Sisters. 

Sr Pat Daly reflects: ‘We wanted this initiative to be a model of sustainable investing that would enable other investors to join us. We were looking for a shift in the financial sector away from damaging industries to true sustainability.’

Given ICCR’s work with banks and investment firms, the Dominican Sisters decided to kick off the work of developing a fund with the Chicago-based Graystone Group, an institutional investment division of Morgan Stanley. The sisters felt that the team at Graystone shared their passion for mission-based investment, and were pleased to be included and consulted in the process at every turn.

After months of development, the Sisters were ready to present these public and private investment products to the Congregations’ Investment Committees and Elected Leaders. It was no small task to get these committees and leadership to commit to new investment products, but Congregations knew this commitment was a critical next step in their commitments to address climate change.

In March 2018 the Public Fund was launched and by the end of the year the Private Fund initiated its first investment. The UN SDGs are clearly addressed in the investments and both funds are performing well.

Find out more

You can watch Sr Pat Daly sharing this case study on our joint webinar with the Catholic Impact Investing Collaborative (CIIC) and others, entitled Investment for a Green Recovery: Innovation in Impact Investing.

Find out more about our partnership with the Catholic Impact Investing Collaborative.

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