The Boom in Alternative Investments

Charities and colleges put more of their money into hedge funds, private equity, and other assets once considered esoteric

Not long ago, the vast majority of nonprofit endowments held the same kind of assets that a 50-year-old professional might keep in her 401(k) retirement plan — a hearty core of stocks, with some bonds and cash thrown in for stability.

Today so-called alternative investments — including private equity, hedge funds, venture capital, oil