If this New Year’s you made a resolution to save more money in 2019, and if you, like seven of every ten adult Americans, would like your investment decisions to align with your personal values, you should consider impact investing. Rather than just moving a bit of money into a savings account each month, invest your money into companies, organizations, and funds that, along with a financial return, have a positive impact on matters you care about.
To be clear, impact investing is not the same as charitable giving: social impact and financial return are not mutually exclusive. But if you want to achieve both, how do you identify investment opportunities that align with your values?
You don’t have to be a philanthropist or an angel investor to support the causes that you care most about. Let the tools and resources below help you invest your money in a meaningful way.
Swell is an impact investing platform that helps you invest in high-growth companies solving global challenges. You can choose from any mix of seven portfolios that invest in publicly-traded companies that are innovating in industries such as renewable energy, disease eradication, and clean water.
Their newest portfolio, Swell Impact 400, invests in companies that consistently derive revenue from activities aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Companies within the portfolio must also have at least one woman or minority on its board or executive team.
As a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), CNote’s mission is to promote economic development and job creation in local communities. Their impact is measured by their financial performance along with their commitment to underserved communities like women and minorities.
When you invest with CNote, you earn up to 2.75% while 100% of your money is invested in underserved communities and local economic development across America. As an example, your investment may be used to fund loans to small businesses or to help build affordable housing.
Newday offers six portfolios, each with a proprietary and targeted investment strategy built to benefit a specific area of impact. You can choose from portfolios focused on fresh water, ocean health, global impact, gender equality, animal welfare, or climate action. The company then donates 5% of its revenue from asset management fees to their NGO partners. They also plan to launch impact banking products, including a mobile checking and savings account, soon.
Similar to Swell and Newday, Wealthsimple allows you to invest your portfolio in companies that further socially responsible initiatives such as gender diversity, low carbon or affordable housing.
This exchange-traded fund was recently launched by the YWCA in partnership with Impact Shares and enables people to invest in companies that have policies and practices in place that promote the empowerment of women and gender equality. More specifically, the fund takes into account criteria such as gender balance in leadership and the workforce, equal compensation, flexible work options, training and career development, parental leave, and safety at work. Impact Shares, a nonprofit ETF issuer and investment manager, is managing the fund and will also donate its net advisory fees to the YWCA.
As one of their investment options, Betterment provides access to a Socially Responsible Investing Portfolio. This portfolio reduces exposure to companies that are deemed to have a negative social impact—e.g., companies that profit from poor labor standards or environmental devastation—while increasing exposure to companies that are deemed to have a positive social impact—e.g., companies that foster inclusive workplaces or commit to environmentally sustainable practices.
Ellevest’s unique investment strategy helps women set financial goals that meet their needs, factoring in gender-specific salary curves and a longer lifespan. In line with their mission, they also prioritize investing in women. Ellevest Impact Portfolios invest up to half of your portfolio in companies that power positive social change by advancing women.
After selecting an industry focus such as SaaS, Organics, or FemTech, the Portfolia team diversifies your investment across ten high-potential, entrepreneurial companies. For accredited investors, this provides an uncommon amount of diversification in startups and young companies that is otherwise difficult to achieve. Portfolia is not only driven to increase the number of female angel investors, but their most recent industry-focused fund, the FemTech Fund, focuses on emerging technologies, products and services improving women’s health and wellness throughout their lives.
Nia Impact Capital
Nia Impact Capital is a women-led and women-owned company that invests with a gender-lens. In addition to requiring that each portfolio company includes women in leadership, all Nia holdings offer products and services beneficial to women and girls. They also exclusively select businesses where the executive team demonstrates a commitment to diversity, transparency, employee engagement, and ecological sustainability.
Crowdfunding platforms like MicroVentures, Republic, iFundWomen, or Kickstarter are also a great way to discover and support early-stage female and underrepresented entrepreneurs. These platforms provide the opportunity to invest in startups with a smaller financial commitment and generally won’t require participants to be accredited investors.
This article is not intended as investment advice or a recommendation to invest in any specific securities or funds, and does not guarantee any particular outcome. As with any investment, there is the potential for profit and the risk of loss using the resources above. Be sure that you are choosing the services, tools, and investment vehicles that work for you and your current circumstances. Diversify your investments and refrain from investing money you can’t afford to lose.