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Socially Responsible Impact Investing

Socially responsible impact investing (SRI) was born out of the idea that the way we spend and invest our money has consequences—both good and bad. Today, SRI investors are weighing financial performance alongside social and environmental factors, choosing investment opportunities that align with their values without sacrificing performance. For many, that means directing investment capital into responsible, transparent businesses, organizations and funds that can deliver a measurable financial, social and environmental return.

Every Investment Has an Impact

SRI By The Numbers

The US SIF Foundation’s 2016 biennial report on the scope of sustainable, responsible and impact investing in the United States found:

  • 1 out every 5 dollars under professional management in the U.S. is invested according to SRI Strategies
  • $8.72 trillion in total assets under management at the end of 2015 used one or more SRI strategies
  • From 2014 to 2016 more than 200 institutional investors and money managers filed or co-filed shareholder resolutions on ESG issues

SRI Matters

SRI investors are often motivated to invest in businesses and organizations that advance social, environmental and governance (ESG) practices. Some specific issues of concern to SRI investors include:

  • Climate Change
  • Renewable Energy
  • Clean Air & Water
  • Healthy Food Systems
  • Clean Technology 
  • Human Rights
  • Women’s Empowerment
  • Equal Opportunity Employment Practices
  • Animal Welfare

SRI Strategies

There’s no single approach to socially responsible and impact investing, however most SRI investors and managers will consider and apply elements of shareholder activism, screening, and community investing as part of their overall SRI strategy.

Positive/Negative Screening

Screening refers to the practice of selecting companies for investment using social and environmental criteria. Negative screening excludes investing in companies that are engaging in business practices that are not socially responsible. Positive screening selects companies for investment based on their commitment and adherence to socially responsible business practices.

Shareholder Activism & Engagement

Owning shares in a company gives investors a defined path for advocacy, activism and engagement around the issues they care about. Shareholders may file or co-file Shareholder or Proxy Resolutions that serve the purpose of bringing important issues to the attention of company management. This process can affect change at the institutional level, prompting dialogue and agreements between the filers and company management.

Community Impact Investing

Community impact investing is a way to invest locally, where a portion of the investor’s return (often called a “social return”) is earmarked for improving the social environment in which we all live. Toward this end, investors will sometimes choose to invest in Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) that work in low-income or at-risk communities to create jobs, provide affordable housing, finance small business development, or in other ways work to mitigate the effects of poverty in disadvantaged communities.

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