BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–NEPC, LLC one of the industry’s largest independent, research-driven investment consulting firms, today announced the results of their endowments and foundations COVID-19 flash poll. This poll examines how these organizations are shifting their strategies amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The results show:

  • The majority (55%) of endowments and foundations expect a severe recession similar to that of 2008. Forty-one percent of total respondents are more optimistic and expect a short, sharp COVID-19-driven recession followed by a strong recovery.
  • The majority (61%) of organizations are rebalancing their portfolios in response to recent market moves, with 14% working to raise additional cash and 13% reducing their overall risk exposure. Only seven percent of all respondents indicated they are taking no action at all.
  • The majority (61%) of respondents are also taking immediate action to reduce their costs, expenses, and spending rate to protect the corpus. Education foundations, in particular, are working to reduce their costs and expenses. Fifty-seven percent of these respondents indicated they are currently reducing their costs, most likely in an effort to reposition themselves for a more volatile future. This compares to the 11% of organizations that are increasing their spending rate to further support ongoing operations.

“Our survey highlights a slight disconnect between endowments’ and foundations’ recession outlook and what the market has been experiencing over the past two months,”  said Kristin Reynolds, Partner and Co-Leader of NEPC’s Endowment and Foundation practice. “The results also mimic what we’ve been hearing from our clients – that all options are on the table. With so much noise and volatility afoot, it’s imperative that endowments and foundations work with a trusted consultant on portfolio adjustments and robust modeling strategies.”

The nonprofit sector is also taking action to support organizations and individuals impacted by the pandemic. More than one-quarter (28%) of private and community foundations are redirecting grants to help address COVID-19 challenges.

This survey was conducted online by NEPC’s Endowments and Foundations Practice Group in March 2020 amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The survey had 105 respondents across education endowments and community, family, private, and public charity foundations. Copyright is held by NEPC.


Employee-owned NEPC is one of the industry’s largest independent, full-service investment consulting firms, serving over 350 retainer clients with total assets over $1.2 trillion. To learn more about NEPC, visit