Non-profit

Friends Fiduciary

Website:

www.friendsfiduciary.org

Location:

Philadelphia, PA, United States

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Friends Fiduciary is a Quaker-affiliated non-profit financial investment firm focused on the left-of-center Environmental, Social, Governance shareholder activism movement, or ESG. It is based in Philadelphia. It has been active in the movement to divest from companies doing business with Israel.

Background

Friends Fiduciary Corporation is a Quaker non-profit group that manages more than $480 million for 380 constituents. The organization leads shareholder advocacy on various social causes. [1]

The organization screens out firms that do not meet Quaker investing criteria on environmental, social and governance (ESG) and it engages shareholder resolutions and votes by proxy. [2]

The organization offers four funds: Quaker Growth & Income Fund, Quaker Green Fund, Quaker Index Fund, and Short Term Investment Fund. [3]

Friends Fiduciary says it is “the most active Quaker organization engaging in shareholder advocacy.” Friends Fiduciary has been part of the Religious Society of Friends since 1898. [4]

The organization claims to invest in companies with long term growth and avoids “highly leveraged and derivative driven investments.” [5]

Political Advocacy

In 2012, Friends Fiduciary withdrew more than $1 million in investments from several companies doing business with Israel. This included the technology company Hewlett-Packard and the utility company Veolia Environment. [6]

The organization opposed proposed rules by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2019 that would put limits on individual investors putting forth shareholder proxy votes. [7]

On the state level, the group signed onto a letter in 2019 with more than a dozen other groups urging the Pennsylvania legislature to enact laws reducing carbon emissions and increasing in-state investment into environmentalist energy. [8]

Friends Fiduciary also joined a coalition in 2019 urging New Jersey state lawmakers to pass a bill promoting the use of plug-in electric vehicles. [9]

Shareholder Advocacy

The organization unsuccessfully tried to push Comcast to disclose more information about its lobbying and membership in trade associations and nonprofits. The shareholder proposal was voted down in 2019. [10]

However, the organization was successful—along with a coalition of other groups—to pressure Comcast to cut ties with the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council. [11]

The organization also joined in a shareholder resolution against Google, along with other left-of-center activist investor groups and some Google employees demanding the giant tech firm change policy areas that include racial and gender diversity. The resolution stated, “The tech diversity crisis threatens worker safety, talent retention, product development, and customer service.” [12]

In 2018, the organization successfully pushed the Dallas-based Atmos Energy to start disclosing more information about corporate spending on politics. “It’s important to have transparency around those expenditures to ensure the company is in line with its public statements to minimize reputational risk and misuse of funds,” said Kate Monahan, shareholder engagement associate at Friends Fiduciary, according to the Dallas Morning News. “A lot of times, shareholders might not know about a controversial trade association membership until they see it in the news.” [13]

Leadership

The 19-member Board of Directors serves on a voluntary basis with no pay. Its members include chairman William Schmidt, vice chairman Bennett Lomax, treasurer Deborah W. Frazer, and secretary Bruce E. Hunt. [14]

Jeffery W. Perkins is the executive director of Friends Fiduciary Corporation.

Mimi Blackwell is the planned giving program manager. Eston Griffin is the director of business development and constituent relations. Richard Kent is the Chief Investment Officer. Kate Monahan is the engagement manager. Sandy Quinn is the finance director. [15]

References

  1. About Us. Accessed November 27, 2019.  http://www.friendsfiduciary.org/about-us/ ^
  2. About Us. Accessed November 27, 2019.  http://www.friendsfiduciary.org/about-us/ ^
  3. About Us. Accessed November 27, 2019.  http://www.friendsfiduciary.org/about-us/ ^
  4. About Us. Accessed November 27, 2019.  http://www.friendsfiduciary.org/about-us/ ^
  5. The Quaker Difference. Accessed November 27, 2019.  http://www.friendsfiduciary.org/about-us/the-quaker-difference/ ^
  6. Stuart, Hunter. “An Unholy Alliance: Churches Apply Economic Pressure on Israel.” Jerusalem Post. January 21, 2017. Accessed November 27, 2019. https://www.jpost.com/Jerusalem-Report/An-unholy-alliance-475363 ^
  7. Arvedlund, Erin. “SEC Commish Jay Clayton Wants to Stay in His Lane and Keep Tight Focus, He Tells Penn Audience.” The Philadelphia Inquirer. November 14, 2019. Accessed November 27, 2019.  https://www.inquirer.com/business/sec-jay-clayton-shareholder-proxy-investors-antitrust-vanguard-20191115.html ^
  8. Press Release. “Pa. Businesses, Higher Ed Institutions Urge State Leaders to Accelerate a Low-Carbon Future.” University Business. November 25, 2019. Accessed November 27, 2019.  https://universitybusiness.com/pa-businesses-higher-ed-institutions-urge-state-leaders-to-accelerate-a-low-carbon-future/ ^
  9. Johnson, Tom. “N.J. Businesses, Investors Want Jump-Start for Plug-In Vehicles.” WHYY. February 21, 2019. Accessed November 27, 2019. https://whyy.org/articles/n-j-businesses-investors-want-jump-start-for-plug-in-vehicles/ ^
  10. Fernandez, Bob. “Comcast Shareholders Reject Proposals for More Lobbying Disclosure, and for Ditching Brian Roberts.” June 5, 2019. Accessed November 27, 2019.  https://www.inquirer.com/business/comcast-brian-roberts-annual-meeting-quakers-nuns-20190605.html ^
  11. Fernandez, Bob. “Comcast Leaves Conservative Think Tank Behind Voter ID, Stand-Your-Ground Laws.” Philadelphia Inquirer. June 10, 2019. Accessed November 27, 2019.  https://www.inquirer.com/business/comcast/comcast-alec-lobbying-conservative-david-horowitz-verizon-20190610.html ^
  12. Eidelson, Josh. “Google Workers, Shareholders ‘Sounding the Alarm’ on Diversity.” Los Angeles Times. February 1, 2019. Accessed November 27, 2019. https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-google-diversity-resolution-20190201-story.html ^
  13. Rauf, David Saleh. “Under Pressure: AT&T, Exxon Mobile, Range Resources Face Investor Calls for Political Transparency.” Dallas Morning News. April 25, 2018. https://www.dallasnews.com/business/2018/04/25/under-pressure-att-exxon-mobil-range-resources-face-investor-calls-for-political-transparency/ ^
  14. Board of Directors. Accessed November 27, 2019.  http://www.friendsfiduciary.org/about-us/board-of-directors/ ^
  15. Staff. Accessed November 27, 2019.  http://www.friendsfiduciary.org/about-us/staff/ ^
  See an error? Let us know!

Friends Fiduciary

1650 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
United States