Michael Brown's hands explaining in a meeting

Investment Approach

Growing funds responsibly for the good of the community

Philanthropists entrust Seattle Foundation to steward funds in support of their grantmaking and for the benefit of the community. We exercise prudent investment practices with a “total return” approach, meaning the total change in a fund’s value over a given period based on interest and dividend income as well as capital appreciation. We take a long-term investment horizon, allowing us to trade some liquidity for higher returns. Our portfolio includes traditional equities and securities, private equity, hedged equity, multi-strategy hedge funds, real estate and real return strategies. The Foundation’s portfolio relies on exposure to a diverse variety of asset classes to maximize returns. Our policy is to ensure all investments are consistent with Washington State’s Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA).

Seattle Foundation offers a number of investment pools to suit various priorities and grantmaking horizons.

  • The Balanced Pool is managed as an “endowment” pool. The investment objective is to provide for annual distributions of 5% while maintaining the purchasing power of the principle. This pool serves philanthropists who have a longer-term grantmaking horizon—approximately seven to 15 years—and is designed to maximize total return while protecting principal.
  • The Socially Responsible Pool serves philanthropists who favor screening investments against Environmental and Social Responsible criteria.
  • The Intermediate-Term Pool is designed for philanthropists with an intermediate grantmaking horizon between two and seven years, targeting capital preservation with some growth to match anticipated grantmaking. This pool utilizes both active and passive strategies in traditional, liquid asset classes.
  • The Short-Term Pool is designed for philanthropists who intend to disperse their funds immediately, or within two to three years. The pool is managed to protect principle, while accepting available returns for no volatility risk. It does not, however, protect against inflation risk and therefore is subject to the risk of reduced purchasing power if grantmaking timeframes exceed the short term.
  • The Index Pool is designed for philanthropists who prefer passive investing, which provides lower investment management costs. The pool includes entirely passive investments; as a result, it excludes the potential benefit of active management.
  • The Growth Pool is designed for philanthropists who prefer taking more volatility risk through a greater percentage of equity exposure than our Balanced Pool offers. This pool uses both active and passive strategies, with the intent of producing higher longer-term returns. This pool does not invest in private investment or hedge funds.

Seattle Foundation Philanthropic Partners may request a change to their investment pools no more than once in a 12-month period during two annual windows listed below. Please note that endowed funds are solely invested in the Balanced Pool.

  1. on or before March 31 with the transfer occurring no later than May 31; and
  2. on or before August 31 with the transfer occurring no later than October 31.


Management of our community’s philanthropic assets is a significant responsibility that we exercise with great discipline and care. See how we govern our investments.


Seattle Foundation seeks to increase the diversity of our investment managers while maximizing returns and maintaining standards of fiduciary care.


Philanthropists and nonprofit organizations trust Seattle Foundation to manage funds for the shared benefit of our region. View quarterly report on the performance of our investments.