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FAQs

Divest Fund FAQs

Campus Divestment FAQs

 


 

Divest Fund FAQs

Why donate?

A donation is one way to add your voice to the divestment movement! Donating to Divest Fund is especially powerful because schools spend a great deal of effort trying to recruit alumni donations. Donations show that alumni care about their Alma mater but want them to do the right thing: stop funding the problem and divest from fossil fuels. To give your donation more teeth, let the school’s president, alumni office, and other responsible parties know. There is a template letter for you to send to your school’s president here.

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Can’t I just pledge to not donate to my school until they divest?

Pledging to not donate is likely not as effective as giving a donation to Divest Fund. Many universities may assume, correctly or incorrectly, that anyone pledging not to donate would not have donated anyway. It’s very easy for someone to sign a petition or pledge, but when you put action behind your words with a donation, your voice is amplified and harder to dismiss.

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Will a small $10 donation even matter?

Every donor counts! A large number of donors shows the breadth of support for divestment. Also, the percent of alumni who donate to their alma mater account for 5% of U.S. World News college rankings. We also encourage you to donate your time and your voice to the effort by letting your friends and family know about your donation or help build the movement with others from your school!

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What if my school isn’t listed on your site?

If you’re a believer in the cause of campus divestment or are a fan of one of the schools listed, you’re welcome to designate them with your donation. If you want to encourage your school to divest by adding them to the Divest Fund family, let us know here.

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Who runs the fund?

The money is donated to a donor-advised fund (DAF) through the firm Impact Assets. There are students, alumni, faculty, and parents from each of the schools that are involved in an Advisory Council (AC) which organizes the fund and directs Impact Assets. Impact Assets is a 501(c)(3) so donations are tax-deductible; they charge a nominal management fee. Learn more about DAFs here.

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Do the Organizers of divestfund.org profit from my donation?

No. All of the participants are volunteers, and all fund returns are reinvested and used to cover management fees. The money released after divestment goes to the school, not to the campaign organizers.

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How is my donation invested?

Donations are not invested in the top 200 fossil fuel companies. We also screen out other harmful industries and positively screen towards renewables. More details about how the money is invested can be found here.

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What happens if the school I donate to doesn’t divest?

The fund gives schools until the end of 2017 to commit to divestment from fossil fuels. In the event that no satisfactory commitment is made at that time by a school in the fund, the money in the fund designated for that school will be equally distributed to the other schools in the fund that have committed to divestment.

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Why will my donation go to other schools if my designated school doesn’t divest?

This end result was chosen for multiple reasons. It rewards schools that make the right decision to stop funding destruction of our planet and future. It prevents schools from just waiting out the “thorn in their side” of potential donations to the school. It further incentivizes decision-makers at schools to divest in order to prevent rival institutions from receiving their funds, and it incentivizes divestment supporters to be more engaged in organizing and fighting for divestment at their designated school so that the school does the right thing and benefits from their donation. Finally, these funding terms are unique, creative, and attention grabbing, designed to be a compelling media narrative.

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Why does the fund end in 2017?

The end date of the fund is based on the International Energy Agency’s World Outlook Report stating that no new fossil fuel infrastructure can be built starting in 2017.

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What if I have more questions?

Here are some other FAQs to read:

We love talking with other organizers; reach us at divestfundac@googlegroups.com

 

Campus Divestment FAQs

What is the Problem?

Climate change, which we now know is fueled by extracting and burning fossil fuel, is already devastating communities, causing unprecedented storms and droughts, flooding low-lying areas. Worse still, climate change poses an unprecedented threat to our future. Our global society, especially the developed world, has failed thus far to take meaningful action to address this challenge. Continued inaction will have egregious consequences for all of humanity, particularly those in developing countries and marginalized communities. The scientific consensus is not only that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal,” but also that the vast majority of proven fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground in order to avoid catastrophic climate change.

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Why is Divestment Part of the Solution?

Students, alumni, and parents around the world recognize that it is unacceptable to profit from the destruction of our planet. Divestment has already had a powerful social and political impact, and we’ve just begun. Fossil fuel companies’ continued exploration and extraction is unethical and pushes us all toward global catastrophe. The stranglehold these companies maintain over our government and our society makes it difficult to begin the just transition away from fossil fuels. However, we can stop investing in them. Investments, by definition, are made with an eye to the future, and we should not be investing in an industry whose actions will compromise the future of all of Earth’s inhabitants.

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Why Should My School Divest?

Many universities hold large endowments with significant investments in fossil fuel companies and/or funds that hold fossil fuel assets. Universities consume fossil fuels in most aspects of campus operations. But universities also support most of the research that has identified the existence, nature, and consequences of climate change, and the principal purpose of the university is to educate, particularly the young adults who will live and work in the climate of the future. (Source)

Many schools have high aspirations captured in their charters. For example, Stanford University was founded to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.”  (Source)  Many schools promote environmental sustainability as one of their core values. Hundreds of our engineers, scientists, policy experts, and economists associated with colleges are working to better understand and combat climate change. At the same time, their endowments are invested in the very fuels causing this crisis. The schools are actively supporting companies that use their enormous wealth and power to perpetuate climate change denial and inaction. With the vast financial and social capital that schools hold, these campuses have a unique opportunity to drive real action on climate change by divesting from the fossil fuel industry. Doing so will not only be a sound financial decision for investment portfolios, it will promote the wellbeing of current and future graduating classes, who deserve a future that is not defined by climate chaos.

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If My School Divests, Won’t it Lose Money?

Fossil fuel divestment is consistent with sound financial management.  Holding assets in fossil fuel companies, and in companies that are fossil fuel-intensive, poses a significant array of risks for universities that appear on multiple, simultaneous fronts. As governments and industries worldwide implement carbon emission reduction plans, fossil fuel companies will eventually experience a dramatic decline in demand for their products, producing so-called “stranded carbon.” Price volatility of fossil fuel assets is the norm, and it will be exacerbated by rising concerns about extractive practices and the forced internalization of external costs, shareholder advocacy, the elimination of generous subsidies, and intense competition from energy efficiency and fast-developing, low-carbon sources of energy. A number of prudent financial institutions, including The Bank of England, see huge financial risk from the continued investment in fossil fuels.

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