Of the 50 largest European foundations surveyed, 11 were UK organisations, including the Wellcome Trust, the Church Commissioners of England and the Charities Aid Foundation.
Researchers found that US foundations allocate an average of 9 per cent of their portfolios to alternative asset classes, and US university endowments average 30 per cent. European foundations, however, have an average of 5 per cent. Alternative assets include investments in hedge funds, private equity and commodities such as timber.
Mirko Cardinale, senior investment consultant at Watson Wyatt, said: "The US has more aggressive and more diversified portfolios and, as a result, the majority of its foundations have better performances than their European counterparts."