The Center for Responsible Business at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business harnessed the power of a new Berkeley crowdfunding platform this semester to raise more than $250,000 for its Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Fund, the school reports.
The center blew past its $100,000 fundraising goal, soliciting donations totaling $126,209 from individuals and corporations, which was then doubled thanks to a matching gift from alumnus Charlie Michaels, BS ’78. Total funds raised came to $252,418.
Original seed funding for the SRI Fund was provided in 2008 by Michaels and his wife, Doris, as well as alumni Al Johnson, BS ’62, and his wife, Marguerite, and Larry Johnson, BS ‘72, and his wife, Victoria.
The first and largest student-led SRI fund at a top business school, the Haas SRI Fund has grown from an initial investment of $1.1 million to more than $2 million, a return of more than 50 percent over six years, the school reports. From 2011 to 2014, the fund’s cumulative return beaten the KLD social index commonly used as a benchmark for SRI investing by almost 5 percent.
“I’ve never dreamt they would take it this far,” Michaels told The Guardian in a recent interview. He hopes the fund will become self-sustaining and also provide funding for the Center for Responsible Business.
The funds raised through the recent crowdfunding campaign will enable the fund’s student managers to diversify its assets beyond publicly traded stocks into fixed-income and social-impact bonds. This will provide them with rare real-world experience managing a multi-asset class fund.
The fund has proven a fertile training ground for previous student managers, some of whom have gone on to assume leadership positions at firms including the Calvert Social Investment Foundation, Cambridge Associates and Citi Community Capital.