Meet Yet Another Hedge Fund Manager Turned Environmental Philanthropist

There are several investment executives and hedge fund moguls taking the reins of Boston's philanthropy scene these days. They might not be household names just yet, but you should really start paying attention to what Jonathon Jacobson, Jeffrey Vinick, and Jeremy Grantham are doing with their fortunes. Grantham, who has over $500 million in two family foundations, has emerged as one of Boston's major new philanthropists.

Grantham hails from the U.K. and is best known for his role as co-founder and chief investment strategist of Grantham Mayo van Otterloo (GMO), a Boston-based investment firm. He has been included in the “50 Most Influential” investors in Bloomberg Markets magazine and has been an outspoken critic of the American government's response to the global financial crisis. In the investment world, his claim to fame was his ability to correctly identify speculative market bubbles as they happened and steer his clients' assets away from impending doom.

In recent years, Grantham interests have shifted to the environment, a move clearly reflected in his philanthropic endeavors. In a recent interview with the Boston Globe, he said his biggest concerns were food shortages, fertilizer shortages, invasive insect species, and climate change.

Together with Hannelore Grantham, he established the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment in 1997. He made large commitments to two London universities to establish the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. He's also made contributions in the millions of dollars to the Nature Conservatory, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Sierra Club. Giving to elite organizations, Grantham said, is “better than nothing. But it isn’t as good as medical research, or more to the point even, critical environmental donations.’’

According to the most recent tax filing, Grantham's foundation's assets has increased by 44% in the last six years, topping out at $377 million at the end of 2012. This makes him the fourth largest individual philanthropist in Boston, behind Edward C. Johnson 3d, the Barr Foundation, and the Flatley Foundation.

The foundation is moving serious money out the door—$16.8 million in 2011, with giving surely much higher now. It's making big gifts to big organizations, but also spreading around lots of smaller grants to all sort of groups and causes, including research, local advocacy, and the communications side of environmental battles.  The foundation accepts and reviews proposals by invitation only. However, local, national, and global nonprofits are all fair game.  

Grantham hails from the U.K. and is best known for his role as co-founder and chief investment strategist of Grantham Mayo van Otterloo (GMO), a Boston-based investment firm. He has been included in the “50 Most Influential” investors in Bloomberg Markets magazine and has been an outspoken critic of the American government's response to the global financial crisis. In the investment world, his claim to fame was his ability to correctly identify speculative market bubbles as they happened and steer his clients' assets away from impending doom.

In recent years, Grantham interests have shifted to the environment, a move clearly reflected in his philanthropic endeavors. In a recent interview with the Boston Globe, he said his biggest concerns were food shortages, fertilizer shortages, invasive insect species, and climate change.

Together with Hannelore Grantham, he established the Granthan Foundation for the Protection of the Environment in 1997. He made large commitments to two London universities to establish the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. He's also made contributions in the millions of dollars to the Nature Conservatory, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Sierra Club. Giving to elite organizations, Grantham said, is “better than nothing. But it isn’t as good as medical research, or more to the point even, critical environmental donations.’’

According to the most recent tax filing, Grantham's foundation's assets increased by 44% in the last six years, topping out at $377 million at the end of 2012. This makes him the fourth largest individual philanthropist in Boston, behind Edward C. Johnson III, the Barr Foundation, and the Flatley Foundation.

At this time, the Grantham Foundation only employs one staff member, Executive Director Ramsay Ravenel—an interesting figure in his own right, who's done innovative work at the nexus of finance and the environment. The foundation accepts and reviews proposals by invitation only; however, local, national, and global nonprofits are all fair game.