When it comes to investment think reinvestment with your faith values
There’s been a lot of news about international faith institutions making large transfers of funds in their portfolios out of companies who cause harm to the planet. Although, there hasn’t been a major announcement in the US yet for a faith-based institution, the news is sure to come.
As people of faith we have a lot of opportunity to think about how we are investing our monies, not just our time and energy. A couple years ago I started working with faith based institutions and individuals to discuss the idea of investing their stock portfolios in sustainability and environmental funds. Initially, I was using terminology we are all familiar. I compared shifting stock strategies to the highly successful campaign of divestment in South Africa to fight apartheid in the 1980s. However, when investing in sustainability, environmental and even corporate social responsibility driven companies, it’s not just moving funds away from companies who are not fully embracing sustainability but also in turn moving said funds to companies that invest in saving God’s beautiful little planet that he gave us. There are many strategies and options but here are some reasons that the faith based community both endowments and individuals should be rethinking where their money is invested and start moving it now.
- We can green our lives, offices, schools and faith based institutions as much as we want but if our money is still invested in stocks that harm the environment then we are not being as actionable as we should be.
- Investments are a way we secure our future and help our family’s future but if the companies you are invested in are all about drill baby drill and let’s blow up mountains to make more energy then future security seems a bit short-sighted. We must support companies that put people first, then planet and the profit. If a company thinks blowing up mountains and having the discharge from said operation 500ft north of a city’s drinking water is okay then let us say that’s not okay. We will invest in companies who understand the waste inherent in our system and that are working to use energy more efficiently.
- As people of faith, and in particular as Christians, we are called to tend the garden and do this to the least of these. However, if our lives and our money go to heating up the planet then we are causing misery for millions around the world who are much more vulnerable to climate shifts then we are. Did you know if we don’t make some major shifts soon 26 million people are projected to be displaced in Bangladesh from rising waters? All the mission trips in the world won’t solve that, but living simply so others can simply live, and investing in companies that reflect that outlook can help, big time. Do your stock investments reflect your values?
- What if you treated your investments as an investment in your own community? What if you “tithed” 10% of your investment into hyper local investments? One of the most effective ways to affect your community is to invest in your own community. Maybe that means you join the Slow Money movement and in turn invest in a local farmer or maybe invest in a non-profit building community resiliency and forget the financial return and think of the spiritual return. Maybe you invest in a start-up that has the next great idea for reducing energy consumption or building a composting business or creating safe cosmetics. Your tithes going to your local church can be an excellent investment in local charities and missions.
- Finally, investing in values also gives a clear sign to Wall Street that business as usual is no longer acceptable. Use your money to truly invest in companies who get that the bottom line is meaningless if people are suffering and the planet is dying.
If you are investing, you probably have a great representative that you have built a relationship with but if they aren’t thinking about how your money is being used versus how your money is growing, start asking questions or find someone who does care. There are plenty of good options out there.
If your money isn’t where your heart is then where is your heart really?