Ranked: The World’s Top 50 Endowment Funds
Ranked: The World’s Top 50 Endowment Funds
What do Harvard, the Church Commissioners for England, the NYC Metropolitan Museum of Art, and an entity on behalf of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah all have in common? They all have endowment funds.
An endowment fund is the investment arm of nonprofit institutions like universities, charities, and churches. The purpose of the fund is to invest the organization’s assets to fuel future operations and other important projects.
The world’s largest endowment funds have billions in investable assets, making them sizable players in the finance sector. Here, using data from Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, we take a closer look at the world’s largest endowment funds by total assets.
Types of Endowment Funds
Overall, there are four main types of endowment structures.
- Unrestricted Endowment: A fund structure where assets are used at the full discretion of the institution
- Term Endowment: A fund structure with a fixed term time period before the principal can be spent
- Quasi Endowment: A donation to an endowment with a specific purpose to deploy that capital
- Restricted Endowment: A fund structure where the principal value from donations is held forever and only returns generated on the principal can be used
In addition, each endowment fund has different structures in regards to withdrawals, use of funds, and their general investment philosophy.
The Largest Endowment Funds
The largest endowment funds can be compared on a grand economic scale, in terms of assets.
To put it all into perspective, the largest 50 endowment funds represent over a trillion dollars in assets. Or for a more singular example, look at Harvard’s fund, which has an endowment greater than the entire GDP of countries like Serbia, Bolivia, or Slovenia.
Here’s how the top 50 rank.
|Rank||Endowment Fund||Total Assets||Region|
|1||Ensign Peak Advisors, Inc||$124,000,000,000||North America|
|2||Japan Science and Technology Agency||$80,700,000,000||Asia|
|3||Stanford University||$75,143,751,000||North America|
|4||Harvard Management Company||$72,781,329,000||North America|
|5||Yale University||$56,223,259,000||North America|
|6||Princeton University||$44,460,038,000||North America|
|7||MIT Investment Management Company||$42,526,492,000||North America|
|8||Duke University||$30,385,835,000||North America|
|9||New York University||$27,840,535,000||North America|
|10||Columbia University in the City of New York||$24,698,782,000||North America|
|11||University of Notre Dame||$24,599,541,000||North America|
|12||KAUST Investment Management Company||$23,500,000,000||Middle East|
|13||Emory University||$20,458,905,000||North America|
|14||Johns Hopkins University||$18,037,751,000||North America|
|15||Church Pension Fund||$17,773,649,171||North America|
|16||University of Chicago||$17,276,136,000||North America|
|17||Ohio State University||$16,006,851,000||North America|
|18||Northwestern University||$15,855,683,000||North America|
|19||Washington University in St Louis||$15,103,569,000||North America|
|20||Penn State University, Office of Investment Management||$15,017,272,000||North America|
|21||Notre Dame of Maryland University||$14,938,580,253||North America|
|22||Cornell University||$14,850,618,000||North America|
|23||University of Southern California||$14,495,427,000||North America|
|24||Vanderbilt University||$13,883,495,000||North America|
|25||University of Virginia Investment Management Compnay||$13,811,076,000||North America|
|26||University of Tokyo||$13,285,270,000||Asia|
|27||National University of Singapore||$12,626,100,000||Asia|
|28||UNC Management Company||$11,986,857,000||North America|
|29||University of Michigan Office of Investments||$11,900,000,000||North America|
|30||General Authority of Awqaf||$11,238,371,192||Middle East|
|31||Church Commissioners for England||$11,197,700,000||Europe|
|32||J.Paul Getty Trust||$10,778,927,000||North America|
|33||Trinity Wall Street Episcopal Church||$9,932,419,000||North America|
|34||Unitersity of Utah||$9,827,602,000||North America|
|35||Brown University||$9,793,108,000||North America|
|36||Kamehameha Schools||$9,326,013,000||North America|
|37||Dartmouth College||$9,078,340,000||North America|
|38||Hong Kong Jockey Club||$8,603,580,000||Asia|
|39||Rice University||$8,424,555,000||North America|
|40||The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust||$8,313,588,000||North America|
|41||University of Pittsburgh||$8,011,856,000||North America|
|42||Nature Conservancy||$7,870,380,000||North America|
|43||University of Toronto Asset Management Corporation||$7,329,730,000||North America|
|44||University of Rochester||$7,149,025,000||North America|
|45||Virginia Commonwealth University||$6,985,495,306||North America|
|46||Purdue University||$6,755,500,000||North America|
|47||University of Miami||$6,582,600,000||North America|
|48||University of Minnesota||$6,304,508,000||North America|
|49||Caltech Investment Office||$6,252,584,000||North America|
|50||Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City||$5,588,554,000||North America|
The largest endowment fund, Ensign Peak Advisors, is based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and manages the assets for the Mormon Church (officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). The church itself has over 16 million members worldwide and is the fourth largest church in America.
The Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) is a national research and development agency that plays a core role in promoting technology, innovation, and science within society. In 1995, Japan’s government passed the Science and Technology Basic Plan and the JST came to life and now has over $80 billion in assets as well as offices in Paris, Washington, Singapore, and Beijing.
Just two funds come from the Middle East. The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) with $23.5 billion and the General Authority of Awqaf. KAUST is ranked 95th amongst universities in the world and made history in the country by being Saudi Arabia’s first mixed-gender university.
The General Authority of Awqaf has $11 billion in assets and was established as a public authority to manage endowments and enhance Saudi Arabia’s various goals for societal development. “Awqaf” in Arabic loosely translates to assets that are donated or purchased for general or specific charitable causes that are socially beneficial.
On the environmental side is the Nature Conservancy, which has $7.8 billion in assets. The charity is estimated to have protected more than 100 million acres of land.
American Universities Dominate
Universities are one leading category from the world of endowment funds, particularly those from the United States. In fact, universities make up 39 of the top 50 endowment funds, with 35 of them based in America.
Historically, Harvard has been the largest, but Stanford has edged ahead in recent years. Stanford has $75 billion in assets compared to Harvard’s $73 billion. These vast amounts of money have not gone unnoticed, and elite universities are facing mounting criticism in some circles.
“When Harvard’s total admitted freshman class is 1,400 people—and they have an endowment that is the GDP of El Salvador—they’re not a nonprofit, they’re a hedge fund educating the children of their investors.” – Professor Scott Galloway
With student debt rising to $1.6 trillion, it’s likely these universities may face greater criticism around how they use the wealth available to them in endowment funds.
The top endowment funds carry considerable influence within the world of finance. While they all have billions to invest, each has very different objectives and intentions on how to deploy their capital.
And despite being non-profit organizations, endowment funds are seeing their overall assets exceed those held by many other investment funds, such as sovereign wealth funds, hedge funds, and private equity firms.
What Baseball Can Teach Us About Investing in Innovation
What can innovation investing learn from baseball? See how hitting home runs and singles are akin to different forms of innovation investing.
What Baseball Teaches Us About Innovation Investing
Innovation investing is a popular investment theme due to its return potential.
However, not all innovation investing is the same, and too many approaches today focus on home-run-style disruptive innovation, Llaving the other forms relatively unnoticed and underrated.
In this sponsored post by Guinness Atkinson Funds, we explore innovation investing through the lens of baseball by comparing types of hits at base to forms of innovation.
Types of Innovation
There are three common types of innovation that various business strategies fall under.
|Persistent Innovation||Disruptive Innovation||Efficiency Innovation|
|Exploring new opportunities to build on top of services/products within a market a business already competes in.||Meant to reinvent the wheel through technology or a business model.||Seeks to optimize operational parts of a business through small incremental changes.|
|Nike making clothes out of recyclable material to improve carbon footprint and brand value.|
Starbucks introducing mobile orders while driving sales growth through higher add on.
Amazon adding new perks to the overall Amazon Prime membership subscription bundle.
|Netflix disrupting the market by changing the way people consume media. |
Airbnb entering and then dominating the short term rental and vacation market through shared homes.
Uber disrupting the taxi industry with mobile ride hailing.
|Walmart constantly optimizing their supply chain and investor logistics to keep the lowest price possible.
McDonald’s adding components of big data and machine learning to drive-thrus which adjust menu offerings based on factors like weather, time of day, local traffic, and historical sales.
Home runs are most often noticed in the sport of baseball and tend to make up the bulk of highlight reels and headlines. And while home runs can have a big impact, did you know that they statistically make up a small portion of total hits in the game?
Similarly, disruptive innovation tends to grab the most media attention due to the impact it can have. But like home runs, they make up a small chunk of the overall innovation universe, while also tending to be riskier bets.
On the other hand, persistent and efficiency forms of innovation are gradual in their impacts, but are much more frequent in occurrences, making them a much larger part of the growing levels of innovation today. These forms of innovation are akin to hitting singles (going to first base), which make up the majority of hits in baseball.
The Data Behind Singles and Home Runs
Singles make up over 60% of all hits in Major League Baseball (MLB). What’s more, they’ve had a track record of doing so for 150 years, going back to 1870. Home runs on the other hand represent around 15% of all hits.
When it comes to investing, this doesn’t mean home runs should be ignored. Rather, certain strategies may be better suited to outcomes that are statistically much more likely to occur.
Furthermore, some investors may have been led to believe that only a select subset of companies are innovating. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
An Innovative World
Research and Development (R&D) and patent applications are rising and have been for decades. In fact, in the U.S., total patent applications have shot up nearly six times.
|Decade||Total U.S. Patent Applications|
On the R&D side, total global spending grew from $500 billion in 1996 to $2.2 trillion in 2018. In addition, estimates say global R&D can pass $3 trillion in the 2020s.
Trillions of dollars being spent in R&D and hundreds of thousands of patent applications every year suggest innovation is becoming more and more of a priority. However, like singles in baseball, much of this innovation can go unnoticed.
Why Persistent and Efficiency Innovation are Underrated
Representing almost two-thirds of all hits, it’s clear that singles are fundamental to successful games, seasons, and championships.
Like singles, persistent and efficiency forms of innovation are much more frequent and can be a key driver of success in investing. Furthermore, these forms of innovation exist in practically all industries, sectors, and regions. In the 21st century, where business has become increasingly competitive, innovation is no longer a choice, but a requirement.
Those who choose not to prioritize innovation may suffer at their own peril by seeing competitive market positions falter, just as many S&P 500 companies have been witnessing for decades. From 1965 to 2020, the average lifespan of a company in the index has trimmed from a high of over 35 years to around 20 years today.
One possible way companies can keep their competitive advantage is by maintaining high levels of innovation. and incorporating it into the company’s cultural DNA.
Guinness Atkinson Sees Innovation Differently
Forward-thinking asset management firm Guinness Atkinson Funds invests in innovation with the firm belief that it can stand the test of time. This means:
- Widening the scope of markets and regions to invest in.
- Seeking to capitalize on innovation without entering hype territory.
- Using rigorous criteria when selecting companies.
- Rooting valuation and fundamentals deep into the analysis process.
With a deep understanding of the trends driving today’s hyper-competitive business environment, Guinness Atkinson Funds believes that much like hitting singles in baseball, investing in persistent progress is key to investing in the future.
>>>Invest in purposeful innovation with proven results. Visit gafunds.com to learn more now.
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