Non-profit

Portico Benefit Services

Website:

www.porticobenefits.org

Location:

Minneapolis, MN

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Formation:

1988

Founders:

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Portico Benefit Services, previously known as the Board of Pensions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is a retirement and benefit plan provider and investment advisor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA).

The ministry makes investment decisions based on companies’ alignment with environment, social values, or governance (ESG) concerns. Its usage of the ELCA’s environment screening process has led to Portico excluding around 740 companies from investment. [1]

Background

The Board of Pensions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, now known as Portico Benefit Services (Portico), is a non-profit ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) that provides investment advice and benefit plans to the church’s members.

The ministry focuses on providing church retirement and other benefit plans to pastors; deacons; synodically authorized ministers; lay employees; individuals who have completed church service or are between religious activities; retirees with retirement account balances, annuities, or Medicare Advantage coverage; and other covered family members. [2]

According to the ELCA Philosophy of Benefits, a collection of foundational principles provided to Portico by the ELCA, benefits such as vacation, parental leave, sabbaticals, and continuing education will be offered to the applicable individuals in a bundled package, alongside health, retirement, disability, and survivor benefits. [3]

ESG Investment Advice

Portico Benefit Services is an Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) related investment organization. It assesses investment opportunities by aligning its decisions with companies that support its environment, social issues, or governance issues. [4]

Portico advocates that its members, while pursuing their investment returns for their retirement, consider products that “help revitalize a neighborhood, develop affordable housing, and advocate for the environment,” by using their retirement assets to invest in an ELCA social purpose fund. [5]

For those that invest in an ELCA social purpose fund, Portico Benefit Services identifies business practices that conflict with ELCA social teachings and policies. These include companies based on their involvement with distilled alcohol, creating environmental harm, gambling, military weapons, pornography, private prisons, tobacco, and denial of human rights in disputed or occupied territories. [6]

Portico, using the ELCA’s Environment Screen, currently excludes approximately 740 companies from its retirement plan investments due to environmental issues including energy and climate change, waste management, fossil-fuel producing companies, and companies owning thermal coal, oil shale, and tar sands reserves. [7]

Funding

Portico Benefit Services file a 990-T tax form under Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return, to the Internal Revenue Service, but only offers the form for public inspection at their office in Minnesota. The ministry does release an annual report in PDF format.

According to the 2018 report, Portico incurred $62,000 in tax expense for 2018, and $117,000 for 2017. The ministry also received $2,000,000 in 2018 and $2,300,000 in 2017 on behalf of the ELCA Benefits Contribution Trust, contributed by ELCA for retiree medical contribution subsidies. It also received $1,039,000 in 2018 and $651,000 in 2017 from the ELCA on behalf of the ELCA Special Needs Retirement Fund. Portico earned $389,000 in 2018 and 2017 in investment management fees for managing investments for the ELCA Foundation. [8]

Political Activities

Portico Benefit Services, as part of its “human rights social criteria investment screen,” a process it uses for ESG-related purposes in investment, created a new limitation against companies in Israel and Palestine as part of a “Peace Not Walls” initiative in 2018 when it approved its ELCA Human Rights screen. [9]

The ELCA’s 2019 Church Assembly voted with a 96% percent majority to approve four Assembly Actions relating to “the detention of Palestinian children by Israel, funding for Augusta Victoria Hospital, and continuing to listen to various perspectives on the conflict.” [10]

References

  1. “Wellness Resources.” Investing for Social Impact. Accessed December 31, 2019. https://www.porticobenefits.org/Overview/ReponsibleInvesting/InvestingForSocialImpact. ^
  2. “Wellness Resources.” Who We Serve. Accessed December 31, 2019. https://www.porticobenefits.org/PorticoBenefits/AboutUs/WhoWeServe.aspx. ^
  3. “Wellness Resources.” ELCA Philosophy of Benefits. Accessed December 31, 2019. https://www.porticobenefits.org/AboutUs/OrganizationalInformation/ELCAPhilosophyOfBenefits. ^
  4. Chen, James. “Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Criteria.” Investopedia. Investopedia, December 7, 2019. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/environmental-social-and-governance-esg-criteria.asp. ^
  5. “Wellness Resources.” Investing for Social Impact. Accessed December 31, 2019. https://www.porticobenefits.org/Overview/ReponsibleInvesting/InvestingForSocialImpact. ^
  6. “Wellness Resources.” Investing for Social Impact. Accessed December 31, 2019. https://www.porticobenefits.org/Overview/ReponsibleInvesting/InvestingForSocialImpact. ^
  7. “Wellness Resources.” Investing for Social Impact. Accessed December 31, 2019. https://www.porticobenefits.org/Overview/ReponsibleInvesting/InvestingForSocialImpact. ^
  8. “Portico Benefit Services 2018 Report.” Portico Benefit Services. Accessed December 31, 2019. https://www.porticobenefits.org › media › Files › PDF ^
  9. Sound, Kairos Puget. “ELCA Churchwide Assembly Passes Assembly Actions Related to Israel and Palestine.” HolyLandJustice.org, August 15, 2019. https://holylandjustice.org/2019/08/15/elca-churchwide-assembly-passes-assembly-actions-related-to-israel-and-palestine/. ^
  10. Sound, Kairos Puget. “ELCA Churchwide Assembly Passes Assembly Actions Related to Israel and Palestine.” HolyLandJustice.org, August 15, 2019. https://holylandjustice.org/2019/08/15/elca-churchwide-assembly-passes-assembly-actions-related-to-israel-and-palestine/. ^
  See an error? Let us know!

Portico Benefit Services

800 Marquette Ave., Ste. 1050
Minneapolis, MN