Course Offerings

Commonfund Institute Online provides a robust curriculum at no cost to you. Topics range from creating effective boards to choosing a strategic asset mix to meet your performance goals. By registering today, you will expand your knowledge, develop insights and hone skills necessary to oversee long-term pools of capital all from the comfort of your home or office.

Considerations for Ensuring the Health and Well-being of Your Organization


Perspective is defined as the ability to understand what is important and what isn't. As a fiduciary it is critical to your role to recognize and put into practice what is important for the longevity of your institution. We’ve outlined three areas we think are most important in ensuring the health and advancement of your organization. In this session we’ll examine these three points in detail and provide strategies you can use to implement them in your own organization.

Defining and Implementing Processes for Effective Boards


The key elements of fiduciary structure and effectiveness at an institution are professionalism, the composition of the board, how engaged the board is and how transparent the organization is to its constituencies and beneficiaries—whomever has a stake in what the board is doing. This session will examine the role of boards, investment committees and senior staff and the processes by which they lead, serve, decide and communicate to the organization, and how they work together to set strategic priorities and strategic direction for the institution during the important processes of portfolio managing and monitoring.        


Developing an Investment Policy Statement to Achieve Your Long-term Goals


The central document guiding the management of a nonprofit institution’s endowment is the investment policy statement (IPS). A well-constructed investment policy statement serves as the committee’s contract with itself and the organization it supports. This session will explore the fundamentals of crafting an IPS and illustrate the importance that the institution’s mission, capabilities and resources should play.

How Good Governance Correlates with Positive Investment Performance


Based on our work with hundreds of institutions over the past 50 years, we believe that good governance is not only critical to the health of the institution itself, but also to the positive performance of the endowment. In a study that Commonfund embarked on with Chris Merker of Fund Governance Analytics, we set out to highlight the correlation between good governance and positive investment performance. This session will speak to the results of this ground-breaking research that focused on governance practices at higher education institutions and detail similar trends in work done with foundations and public pension funds.


The Role of an Endowment: Philosophies and Considerations


A critically important asset for many nonprofit organizations is their endowment. For many institutions this pool of financial assets is the difference between fulfilling their missions and being forced to lower their aspirations or even ceasing to operate. This session will examine the purpose of an endowment and how it should deliver on the mission in the long term, why it is important to create a return objective and considerations your institution should take into account when developing one, as well as how to develop a risk profile for your portfolio.

The Surprising Science of Meetings: Committee Decision-Making and Group Dynamics

img-feature-people-rogelburg Dr. Steven Rogelberg discusses his best-selling book, The Surprising Science of Meetings and research conducted during Covid around virtual and hybrid meetings. His work brings a sharp and strategic light to an activity typically taken for granted – the meeting. Sadly, most meetings fail to engage us, or even worse, blatantly disregard our time. There is now a meeting science that can bring solutions forward to solve the meeting “problem”. Dr. Rogelberg, a highly decorated and award-winning researcher, speaker, and teacher shares an exciting evidence-based path for nonprofits, boards, teams, committees, and leaders to realize the true potential of meetings and assure ROI on what is a massive investment of time.


Alternative Assets


This session will examine the challenge of choosing a strategic asset mix to generate the returns necessary to support the agreed-upon spending policy at an acceptable level of risk, all while taking into account the institution’s need for liquidity. It will uncover the importance of allocating to alternative asset classes, the benefits of adding them to your portfolio and the effects that they could have on the long-term growth of your endowment.



There is a growing institutional interest in investing in blockchain technologies, however there exists a wide range of perspectives on its most important features and applications, the industries it is best positioned to disrupt and the likely role it will play in society. This session will examine the fundamental benefits blockchain technologies present as well as the underlying thesis for investment in this emerging ecosystem.

Disrupting the Status Quo


The Commonfund model of long-term investing calls for portfolios that include an equity bias, broad diversification and illiquid private investments to capture the premium they may offer over public markets. In this session, we will be providing a framework to challenge common concepts in the portfolio construction process – focusing specifically on how those concepts are positioned versus today’s economic backdrop and capital markets.


ESG Roadmap: Where Policy Intersects Portfolio


ESG and environmentally sustainable investment are increasingly capturing the attention of the institutional investment community. These types of investments can enhance a portfolio, reduce volatility, provide greater resilience and gain exposure to secular growth trends. In this session we’ll examine our ESG roadmap and highlight the reasons you should consider adding ESG into your IPS, what questions you should ask and how you and your organization should go about implementing strategies into your portfolio.


How to Build a Diverse Manager Program


There is a growing interest in investing in diverse managers, but it has been slow to translate into significant increases in capital allocations to these managers. Even if there is willingness, it takes planning and implementation, as well as a strong partnership from the board, senior staff and any third-party investment partners. This session will examine the benefits to investing in diverse managers and highlight the steps your institution should take to make progress towards it.

Traditional Asset Classes


Constructing and overseeing an investment portfolio is at the heart of endowment management—the nucleus around which everything revolves. If the strategic document behind the portfolio is the investment policy statement, the most fundamental tenet underpinning a wide range of decisions is asset allocation. With that comes the challenge of choosing a strategic asset mix that will generate the returns necessary to support the agreed-upon spending policy at an acceptable level of risk, all while taking into account your institution’s need for liquidity. This session will examine the traditional asset classes and what to consider when allocating to them, the benefits of adding them to your portfolio and the effects that they could have on the long-term growth of your endowment.

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