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Investing in reparations

You may have seen the news last week that the Church Commissions for England’s Board of Governors, the organisation that administers the assets of the Church of England, released and adopted the 41 recommendations from an Oversight Group formed in mid-2023, to:


'…advise the Board on how it establishes the new impact investment fund and grant funding programme that is being set up in response to its research findings of historic links to transatlantic chattel slavery'.


The report is a relatively short 14 pages, given the breadth of the Group’s mandate, research and resulting recommendations, including:

  • Establishing clear aims for the [new impact investment] fund, including geographical, sectoral and social areas of focus.

  • Setting clear parameters for the use of Capital and Income.

  • Formulating a theory of change to guide grant allocation and monitoring

  • Supporting the development of a comprehensive engagement plan for internal and external stakeholders.

  • Ensuring that communities impacted by the legacy of African chattel enslavement would be at the heart of our planning, thinking and action.

The oversight group itself, much like our general recommendations around ethical investment governance at faith-based asset owners, was relevantly diversified and skills inclusive, in this case including the voices, leadership and contributions from representatives of those most impacted, along with '…experts in finance, impact investment, law, charity, social science, social enterprise, community initiatives, theology, history and journalism'.


The report details the underlying financial assumptions and research, and the overall process undertaken by the Group, which included a 'global engagement questionnaire' to help determine the resulting investment priorities, including education, economic development, and healthcare, among others.


At a commitment of £100 million for an 'initial allocation' by the Church Commissioners, invested in £20 million allotments over five years, with a recommendation of '…revisiting results achieved at Years Two, Four and Five to assess additional and/or complementary funding pathways'. Importantly, the Church is looking to 'attract co-investors to increase the fund’s value' towards a £1 billion target. Worth noting, as the authors of this report cite, some see the £100 million commitment by the Church as insufficient.


There are many additional thoughtful recommendations in the report regarding grants, governance and staffing, expenses, funding for ongoing research and other topics – recommended reading for faith-based asset owners.

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