Socially Responsible Investing Event Summary

Earlier this month we were so grateful to be able to gather with some new and old friends to hear from a wonderful panel on what it looks like to invest our money in ways that reflect our values and impact the world around us in positive ways.  Aliana, from Boston Impact Initiative, Carolyn from Cooperative Fund of New England and David from Eventide Funds were gracious, insightful and challenging as they shared with us what they do, cleared up misconceptions, explained terms and offered some practical advice.

We spent the evening talking about investment concepts like negative screens and environmentally targeted investments and placed based investing.  It may not sound stimulating but speaking as someone who is neither financially fluent or even particularly inclined I was inspired! To hear from people who are passionate about not only their work, but how their work impacts their clients and their communities was both thought provoking and challenging.

One question that we wrestled with together with was do we as investors need to “settle” for lower returns in order to be investing our money in ways that reflect our values and promotes thriving communities.  I loved the way our panel answered this question. First, it turns out that many SRI funds (Socially responsible Investment) in fact perform as well or better than their counterparts – so in many cases no financial compromise is necessary.  But in all honesty our friends at BII and New England Cooperative shared about their investment vehicles which offer great returns, perhaps more comparable to a money market or a CD, but not quite like say a long term investment in a mutual fund which would yield a higher return (check out this article for more insight).  But what some of our panelists asked us to consider as we thought about “sacrificing” returns was – there is always some sacrifice when we invest and garner returns, the question is who is sacrificing?  They challenged us with the truth of a system that has been and continues to be exploitative and extractive especially for people of color, immigrants and other marginalized groups. It was this idea that when I am investing, thinking only of wanting the best return, and not wanting to compromise financially with the little I feel I can set aside to invest I had failed to look at what this might be costing others.  I was really struck by the characterization of our system as extractive. It seemed both accurate and convicting. As a counter our panelists are building generative systems.  Systems that build up, invite in and engage.  This is the kind of system I want to be part of!

I would encourage everyone to investigate the amazing companies/organizations represented at our event. There are links above.  If you’d like to talk more about some of the substance of the evening I’d love to get coffee. BFJN is passionate about helping our network understand how to make personal financial decisions that better reflect who Jesus is and who he is to us so if I can be of use to you in this I’d be overjoyed to invest a coffee into that endeavor to chat about your thoughts, questions or ideas.

One last thank you to Aliana, Carolyn and David for sharing with us and for the GENERATIVE work they do!  The world is truly a better place for it.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

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