The Ventura County Community Foundation’s portfolio surged 17 percent for fiscal year 2012, it was announced last week at the community foundation’s annual Open Investment Committee Meeting, where news of the endowment’s performance is shared with donors and fund beneficiaries.

“We continued to see strong results from our portfolio, validating our disciplined long-term strategies,” said Robert Katch, investment committee chair and board member of the Ventura County Community Foundation. “We are pleased our relative performance is up, and our long-term performance of 8.1 percent per year over 20 years remains a solid base for our grantmaking and other philanthropic investments.”

The foundation’s total assets were $115 million as of Sept. 30.

VCCF invests the capital of more than 500 philanthropic funds that serve Ventura County. Nonprofits depend on returns from these investments, distributed annually from VCCF, to provide charitable services to local residents. VCCF also manages endowments that will support $1.2 million in scholarships for Ventura County students in 2013.

VCCF and its investment consultant cited strong returns in both equities and fixed income markets, while cautioning the future continues to hold risks along with swings in the international economy.

“We live in a global world, both of opportunities and risks,” said Bob Cluck, longtime consultant to the foundation’s investment committee and chairman of Canterbury Consulting. “As we diversify our portfolio into international markets to take advantage of the growth in markets across the world, we are also exposed to the ups and downs of the world economy.”

Katch also pointed out VCCF’s 10-year investment performance ranked in the 8th percentile of foundations with less than $1 billion invested, meaning VCCF’s portfolio performed better than 92 percent of those managed by its peers.

VCCF posted an 8.4 percent return for the last 10 years, against an Attribution Index of 7.3 percent. The Attribution Index evaluates the performance of fund managers and reveals the power of the manager’s investment decisions. The VCCF portfolio returns are compared to a benchmark to determine whether a manager’s choices affected investment performance or if the portfolio rose or fell with the markets. The difference between the two reflects additional value captured by VCCF’s investment managers and put to work to generate long-term growth for the portfolio and VCCF’s donors.

VCCF’s since-inception number — performance since 1992 — was posted as 8.1 percent versus its Attribution Index of 7.5 percent, demonstrating the foundation’s strategies continue to generate additional value for its endowment funds. On a $75 million portfolio, noted Katch, that additional performance is valued at $450,000 in additional annual earnings that will benefit local nonprofits.

For more details on the portfolio performance, relative to its strategy and specific managers, click here and then click on investments.

— Hugh Ralston is president and CEO of the Ventura County Community Foundation.