Socially Responsible Investing Blog Ideas/Resources by Mara Chamlee
Resources to help you take the first steps toward Socially Responsible Investing
Living a life true to our moral values, especially those aligned with the teaching of Jesus Christ will continually serve as one of the most important challenges that we as people of faith will grapple with throughout our lives. Deciding to be intentional about investing our money towards positive social change is one of the most foundational ways to live a life true to these values.
Taking action toward ethical investing can be puzzling as there are always many issues competing for our attention. Although it may pose a great challenge, realize that this is a cause for celebration! It is such a joyful part of life that we get to align our money with our values and that we get to choose to support what most deeply rests on our hearts. As you begin examining the call to responsible investing and weighing the causes you are most inclined to support, think about what gets your attention and calls you to action. Do you have a personal “values statement”? Maybe take a moment to outline one. Be sure to name and define values that have helped guide your life in making decisions and building relationships. Some guiding questions for setting your intentions can include:
A few questions to ask yourself to calibrate your endeavour in Socially Responsible Investing:
- Based on your personal values, what social issues most frequently hold your attention?
- To which of these issues do you most strongly feel called to dedicate your time, energy, and resources?
- What kind of impact do you want your resources to make?
- How do you want to see your most closely held values enacted in society?
- Are there organizations that you are already familiar with that take a responsible approach to acting out love in our society?
After taking a few moments to set your intentions for responsible investing, finding a starting point to debunk the notion that “it’s just too hard to know where our money is truly going” is not easy, but we want to give you some tools and ideas that may make the endeavour more approachable. Whether this challenge has been on your heart for a lifetime, or it is a new commitment you are undertaking, resources for practical application can always help, no matter at what point you are along your journey.
A practical place to start doing research and have a foundational understanding of the many facets of responsible investing is with the United Nations supported institution, Principles for Responsible Investing. Here is a quick introduction to how they outline responsible investing with many visuals and other resources that help break down the concepts into a more understandable approach. In this article, they have outlined the three primary areas of responsible investing that are now widely recognized, including environmental, social, and governance–commonly referred to as ESG. Each category has a few foundational issues that are common to investors to address in their businesses. Additionally, they have produced a robust series of downloadable readings on an introduction to socially responsible investing, which can be found at the end of the article.
There are a number of investment and asset management groups that are dedicated to socially responsible investing, as well as a number that are faith-based. Here are a few that we are familiar with and are certainly worth taking the time to check out!
Ave Maria- https://avemariafunds.com/ ( A Catholic mutual fund)
Everence- https://www.everence.com/ (A faith-based financial services organization)
Boston Impact Initiative- https://bostonimpact.org/
Ujima Project- https://www.ujimaboston.com/
After seeing what terrific work these groups do in dedicating their efforts to just and ethical investments, we hope that you are inspired and are able to do further research and find organizations that speak more specifically to your values.
One point to keep in mind is that as we search for how to invest in causes that contribute to social progress, we must be attuned to keeping our money out of organizations or systems that harm the very progress we are looking to further. It is not only important to know our money is being invested in fair and just efforts, but it is also important to be sure that we are not supporting unjust and unethical institutions. Divesting our money from such practitioners can be harder than we realize. One tool that can help us relatively easily compare the performance of different management groups or funds based on a variety of parameters is the Heart Rating, a product of the Natural Investments LLC management firm, which can be found here. Part of the Heart Rating methodology and screening is based on specific avoidance and screening criteria, which can help us to more easily recognize if we are divesting from organizations that conduct unethical practices.
We hope that giving you a place to start thinking about and researching the concept of responsible investing intrigues you and calls you to learn more! If you are feeling that call, we will be hosting an event to bring together people in the Boston area who are doing some great work on socially responsible investing and can help us understand what options there are for us and how we can use our dollars to express our values! Stay tuned for more on this event and the next installment in this series as we hear from some of the folks who will be at this event that were mentioned here earlier, the Boston Impact Initiative. We hope you’ll continue to follow along and contemplate what it means to have your Faith inform your investing!
Join us on Wednesday to continue considering this topic. We will ask how the way we invest our money reflect our values, create social change and promote thriving communities? During this event we will engage in discussions with representatives from innovative organizations engaging in this work, including the Boston Impact Initiative, Eventide Fundsand theCooperative Fund of New England. Click here for event info.