4 Steps to Align Your Investments With Your Values

WDN’s learning series, Impact Investing: When Money Meets Mission, encouraged participants to approach their investments with a values lens. Beginning with simple cash investments and advancing to more sophisticated impact investing opportunities like venture capital, each workshop focused on equipping our participants with the tools to purposefully invest in causes and communities that they care about.

Banking differently. Rather than letting cash sit idly in a bank, Cat Berman and Danielle Burns from CNote shared the power of using cash to invest in financially underserved communities. Through partnerships with community development financial institutions, CNote connects investors with opportunities to grow local wealth. Their suite of products, which emphasize lending to women and BIPOC business owners, enable investors to support small businesses, affordable housing projects, and economic development right in their backyard.

Aligning our public and private investments with our values. WDN members and mother-daughter duo, Linda Mason and Laura Merchant, walked us through their impact investing journeys – sharing the benefits of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investments and how they’ve used their voices as shareholder activists. Within the private market, we learned from WDN member Babbie Jacobs that there are countless investing networks that are changing the face of angel investing. Through her work with American Sustainable Business Network, Babbie has built meaningful relationships with small startup entrepreneurs and participates in impactful funding projects that move capital to marginalized communities. We also heard from Stardust, a family office led by WDN member Molly Gochman, who developed an Equity Due Diligence Questionnaire as a tool to invest in companies that promote gender and racial equity.

Supporting innovation and entrepreneurship. In the first half of 2021, startups within the venture capital ecosystem raised a record-breaking $147 billion. However, only 1.2% of that funding went to Black founders. Esther Tricoche highlighted how new venture models are emerging in response to this lack of access to private capital. Base10’s Advancement Initiative is one innovative example that’s partnering with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to fund scholarships and create pathways to tech careers for minority students. On the other hand, Jenny Kassan’s Angels of Main Street focuses on supporting entrepreneurs that are left out of the venture ecosystem by creating an investment community that requires no minimum net worth or income requirement to participate. Crowdfund Main Street – a regulation crowdfunding platform that Jenny also founded that’s designed to connect individual investors with mission-driven small businesses – also empowers everyday investors with the tools to grow community wealth.

4 Steps to Further Your Investing Journey

Whether you’re new to impact investing or a seasoned expert who wants to add more resources to your donor toolkit, here are 4 tangible steps you can take to make simple, yet impactful, improvements to your portfolio.

Find a Values-Aligned Financial Advisor

ValuesAdvisor is the only nonprofit platform offering investors the opportunity to search for an experienced, values-aligned financial advisor. This subscription-based platform allows you to easily tailor your search using key filters, including geography, firm size, asset class, and more.

Make a Community Investment with Your Cash

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) are federally-certified nonprofit lenders (e.g. credit unions, banks, and loan funds) that bring economic opportunity and resources to financially underserved communities. Not only do CDFIs help revitalize neighborhoods by providing loans to small businesses and supporting affordable housing projects, but they also play a critical role in funding minority- and women-owned businesses.

Find a CDFI Near You:

Do Your Mutual Funds Make the Grade?

As You Sow is making it easier for individuals and companies to evaluate their mutual funds through a values lens. Using their screening tool, investors can find out if they’re invested in companies with poor gender equality policies, fossil fuels, assault or military-grade weapons, and other environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics.

Get started now! Enter one of your mutual funds or ETFs from your 401(k), retirement plan, or personal portfolio into As You Sow’s screening tool to see if your investments truly measure up to your values.

Take One Step Further With Your Due Diligence 

Conducting due diligence is a critical part of making any investment decision. Consider how you can take your due diligence one step further by reviewing these resources from our speakers:

  • For Beginners: New to impact investing? Watch Jenny Kassan’s 15-minute video for a checklist of items to consider when conducting your due diligence.
  • For Experts: Stardust’s Equity Due Diligence Questionnaire is a tool that assesses how a company’s culture, policies, and practices promote racial and gender equity.

This series would not have been possible without the support of our speakers. Tremendous thanks to Cat Berman and Danielle Burns from CNote, WDN members Linda Mason and Laura Merchant, Helena Hasselmann and Natalya Sanghvi from Stardust, WDN member Babbie Jacobs representing American Sustainable Business NetworkJenny Kassan, and Esther Tricoche representing Kapor Capital. Finally, a special thank you to WDN Board Chair Maggie Kulyk for hosting this series.

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