Beyond Divestment to Reinvestment
We take to heart the words of Faith and Practice: “Good stewardship of economic resources consists both in avoidance of those evils and in actions that advance peace, simple living, justice, and a healthy ecosystem.” We wish to encourage Friends’ institutions to divest from/screen out fossil fuel companies and reinvest in a greener economy. This may take the form of reducing our facilities carbon footprint, reinvesting in community development funds, the green energy sector or other sectors that better reflect our values.
Reinvestment Option 1: Stay in the conventional financial market
Are there fossil free funds we could re-invest in? Yes, there are many other options. While we are not in a position to recommend any particular fund or fund manager, we urge you to learn more about the alternatives – and they are growing quickly.
Online, you can get access to alternative investments through
· Friends Fiduciary Fossil Free Fund http://www.friendsfiduciary.org/quaker-green-fund/
- Green America http://www.greenamerica.org/fossilfree/
- As You Sow (see the pdf of their Reinvestment Handbook) http://www.asyousow.org/health_safety/investment-math.shtml
- US SIF – The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment is the US membership association for professionals, firms, institutions and organizations engaged in sustainable and responsible investing. See their work onFossil Fuels, Investment and Reinvestment http://www.ussif.org/climatereinvestment
- Institutional Pathways to Fossil Free Investing http://gofossilfree.org/files/2013/05/Institutional-Pathways-to-Fossil-Free-Investing.pdf
- Resilient Portfolios and Fossil Free Pensions http://631nj1ki9k11gbkhx39b3qpzua.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/files/2013/05/Resilient-Portfolios-and-Fossil-Free-Pensions.pdf
- Joyce Moore Financial Services http://www.jmfs.com/
More background reading on fossil free portfolios
Building a Carbon Free Portfolio not a list
The Investment Case for Fossil Fuel Divestment
Reinvestment Option 2: Community Development Investing
Community development investments are designed to support healthy local economies both in the United States and internationally. The investments primarily relate to affordable housing, small businesses, and local jobs creation that specifically benefit lower-income families and neighborhoods.
Learn more about community development investing consider this resources:
For an overview of community development financial institutions see http://www.domini.com/community-investing/What-Is-A-/index.htm
For information on Community development credit unions
Credit Union National Association (CUNA), based in Washington, D.C., and Madison, Wisconsin, http://www.cuna.org/aboutus/
For information about Micro-credit
Quaker–led SosteNica has over two decades of experience providing micro-credit in Nicaragua http://www.sostenica.org/
Reinvestment Option 3: Reducing our Carbon Footprint
Green Micro Lending: An Alternative way to Invest in Renewable Energy
On the occasion that a Friend questions the sensibility of divesting from fossil fuel investments, I've seen a few patterns forming. Some among those who question seem to think that those of us who advocate divestment must, in the alternative, expect that the newly divested funds would then be put into a renewable energy stock, mutual fund, or exchange traded fund (ETF). While we are not investment advisors, I can express my personal observation: stocks in renewable energy companies have performed abysmally to date, much as I hate to admit it.
There is a much more conservative investment into which the money could be placed, and it would in an alternative way be an investment in renewable energy. Friends Meetings, or Quarterlies, or Yearlies could take their divested funds, and create a green micro lending fund based on a similar plan as that of the cooperative funds that many states now offer. An investor in the fund receives a percentage, based on the percentage that the borrower pays back to the fund. The borrower is enabled to purchase an energy alternative for their home (or Meeting), and the fund and its investors make a profit that exceeds that of a savings account, and other investments. With current home improvement loans in the range of 6%, a Meeting, Quarterly, or regional that starts a fund like this could offer a good return on investment to individuals who contribute to the fund.
Since most Meetings prefer to have investments that are relatively stable, this is an alternative type investment that provides that. It is true that a Meeting or other Friends organization that chooses this alternative will need a small committee to administer the fund, but for those Friends who see the value in this process from the initial divestment to finding constructive and profitable things to do with that newly freed up money, the enthusiasm will be ongoing.
Faith based organizations which guide the greening process include:
- Friends General Conference Friends Meeting House Fund: http://www.fgcquaker.org/services/friends-meeting-house-fund
- GreenFaith Getting Started for Houses of Worship http://greenfaith.org/getting-started
- Creation Justice Ministries http://www.creationjustice.org/greenchurch/GetInvolved.php
- Earth Care Congregations http://www.pcusa.org/resource/earth-care-congregations-guide-greening-presbyteri/
- Building a Firm Foundation: A Creation Friendly Building Guide for Churcheshttp://www.cofchrist.org/earthsteward/Green%20Building.pdf