Comic Relief has become a signatory of the PRI. The globally active charity, which had an investment portfolio of £138m, signed up to the PRI on 28 May and will now work towards full implementation of the Principles.
The decision follows a review of Comic Relief’s investment policy, which had been criticised in the media in December 2013. Signing up to the PRI was one of the five-person panel’s five recommendations that Comic Relief’s Trustees have accepted in full.
In addition to joining the PRI the following changes outlined below are now being implemented: it will not make investments in companies that manufacture armaments or tobacco products or whose primary business is the manufacture of alcohol products; it will build stronger links between its investment committee and its trustees; it will allocate a proportion of its portfolio to social investment; and it will increase transparency around its investments.
As part of the latter commitment it has committed to publish an annual list of funds in which it is invested. Tim Davie, chair of Comic Relief said the moves meant the charity now has ‘an investment policy that is firmly in line with our ethos’.
Responsible investment has become an increasingly important area for charities due to increased scrutiny of whether the income they raise is invested in line with the mission of the organisation. A 2012 study by the UK-based Charity Finance Group found that 51 per cent of charities it surveyed have some form of responsible investment policy, up from 45% in 2009.
A separate study conducted by YouGov in 2012 found that around two thirds of members of the UK public believed that charities should be investing their assets in a responsible way.
Since it was begun in 1985 in the UK, Comic Relief has raised more than £900million for various charities. Among other charitable signatories to the PRI are the UK-based Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, the New Zealand based Canterbury Community Trust, and Oxfam Novib in the Netherlands.