Act Up

Make your dollar count

Your money can be “green” in more ways than one if you seek out investment choices that support a better world. Socially responsible investing (SRI)—the practice of integrating personal values and social concerns with investment decisions—has become increasingly popular in the past ten years, according to the Social Investment Forum, a national nonprofit membership association dedicated to the promotion of SRI. The Forum’s figures show the total dollars involved in social investing grew tenfold between 1985 and 1995, from approximately $65 billion to $639 billion.

Mutual fund screening is a key strategy in socially responsible investing. “Most socially responsible mutual funds use unique screens to keep out corporations engaged in activities that are in opposition to the values of the fund,” says Ellis Jones, PhD, coauthor of The Better World Handbook (New Society, 2001). “Many socially responsible investment groups refrain from investing in tobacco, alcohol, weapons, nuclear power, and corporations that are especially polluting or exploitative.” Instead, these funds often seek out companies with safe products, positive labor relations, excellent environmental policies, and respect for worldwide human rights.

Investing in socially responsible stocks can be just as profitable as putting savings into regular stocks and funds. From 1990 to 1998, the Domini Social Index (400 socially responsible stocks) actually outperformed the S&P 500. To find a financial planner who specializes in socially responsible investing, log on to www.socialinvest.org.

—Beth Hayden