Patrick Davis, Strategic Initiatives Officer at Calvert Social Investment Foundation, offers this guest post on putting your money and financial decisions into service. Another version of his essay was published on Unsectored.
Today, there are more ways to align your assets and your values than ever. In many circles, this strategy has become known as “impact investing.” Personally, I’m hell-bent on demystifying that language – it’s inaccessible for so many people, especially in my generation. I don’t have any considerable assets – the word “investor” doesn’t really resonate. But, I have made sure that to the absolute best of my ability that any financial assets that I accumulate are being put to work in support of my worldview.
In the past four years, I’ve made several changes. My savings deposits are in an account at local community development bank that finances affordable housing and community facilities in low-income DC neighborhoods. My 401(k) account is continuing to grow in value, and is still invested in companies that fulfill a thorough assessment of environmental, social and governance factors. I’ve also made several direct investments in opportunities that finance the eradication of food deserts in low-income communities, support access to finance in the developing world, and accelerate the representation and inclusion of women in global and local economies. In fact, some of these investments have been in increments as small as $20.
There is an economy emerging that reflects the values of my generation. Imagine, for a second, the world you wish to see around you when you become a parent or a grandparent. Then imagine a reality in which that world was built on the financial assets of a generation that redefined the rules – a generation that rejected profit maximization at the expense of humanity, a generation that stood up to the challenges of climate change, a generation that personified compassion, interdependence, and mutuality. Becoming a part of this economy is no longer out of reach – it’s something we can all do. It’s something we all must do if we are truly earnest in our desire to “be the change we wish to see in the world.”