Grow our capacity to do more good
Why it’s important to us
Our only revenue source is the investment income from our endowment — the funds left to us by Archie Bush. We don’t fundraise and we don’t sell things. Our ability to make grants is wholly dependent on our investment returns so it’s imperative that we manage those investments as well as possible.
Archie intended the Bush Foundation to be around to benefit communities in perpetuity. To keep providing at least the same level of benefit to communities over time, we have to earn enough money from our investments to cover what we pay out plus the cost of inflation.
How we’re doing
In the current high-inflation environment, meeting our return goal is difficult. Like most investors, we lost money in 2022. Our endowment went down by 24% — from $1.7 billion to $1.3 billion — which is certainly bad news. Because we are a long-term investor, we don’t react too strongly to results in any given year. And since we use a multi-year smoothing formula to set our payout and minimize the impact of up-and-down markets, we can have a bad year in investments without cutting our grantmaking budget.
We look at whether we are meeting our goal over the lifetime of our investments — really since 1976 since that is when we started our current investment approach — and we are meeting our goal over that period. (We are glad to report that over the past 5- and 10-year periods we are in the top 5% of returns among peers, which has allowed us to significantly grow our grantmaking over that time.)
By stewarding Archie’s original gift of around $200M well, we have been able to pay out more than $1 billion to the community and have more than $1 billion in our current endowment to fund future grantmaking.
We constantly work to understand market conditions and evaluate our investment managers based on their performance and how their strategies align with the opportunities we see in the market. Right now, we are particularly focused on the impacts of inflation and geo-political events like U.S.-China relations.
We are also looking at how to do more good in our investments, consistent with our impact investing approach. We have a long-term strategy for our investments and so won’t be making major shifts based on 2022 results. We will continue to make adjustments based on market conditions and investment manager performance.
Guided by our Investment Committee, we have a growth-oriented strategy that fits our focus for stewarding our endowment for the long-term benefit of communities.