As a private operating foundation, the Lincoln Institute derives funding from an endowment. The Institute is required to spend 3.3% of assets on programmatic activities each fiscal year, and budgets an additional 1.2% for investment management expenses.
The endowment has its roots in the wealth generated by Cleveland inventor John C. Lincoln, who founded the Lincoln Electric Company in 1895 (NASDAQ: LECO). As a young man, Lincoln had the opportunity to learn of Henry George and George’s views on the property tax and social equity. He wanted others to learn of these ideas, so he established the Lincoln Foundation in 1946. His son, David established the Lincoln Institute in 1974 and in 2006, the two separate entities were merged into a single, private operating foundation. This is the structure in place today.
Today, the investment portfolio includes a substantial holding in Lincoln Electric, which is considered a legacy holding and is not a factor when modeling is undertaken to determine asset allocation.
Equity (including international and emerging markets): 55%
Alternatives (including hedge funds, private equity and real assets): 30%
Debt (including unconstrained credit and cash): 15%
The Lincoln Institute was established as a perpetual organization. As such, the primary goal is to manage the portfolio to maximize long term growth. The absolute return criteria is no less than the S&P 500 Index. The portfolio is measured against a custom policy index and has a real return objective of inflation +5.5%.
The Institute’s Investment Committee has evaluated the relative merits of impact and mission related investing. After careful consideration, its policy is to first seek out the highest return for the specific asset class. If an investment strategy first meets satisfactory return expectations, investments that also support our mission are considered as value added. In the selection of investment managers, smaller boutique firms are preferred over larger organizations but exceptions are made.