Socially Responsible Investing

You probably consider yourself to be a pretty values-driven person.

Maybe you’re rigid about recycling, always support your local firefighters, volunteer at the soup kitchen during the holidays, and try to donate a pint of blood to the Red Cross.

What you get in return is the feeling that you’ve done your part to make the world a little bit of a better place.

But what if you could give—and get back? Watch your money make a difference and give yourself an opportunity to build a nest egg?

Enter socially responsible investing, or SRI.

At its core, it’s when you weigh both social impact and financial return while choosing investments for your portfolio—and it’s become an increasingly popular way for people to invest in causes they believe in.

In 2013, $6.57 trillion in assets under management were devoted to socially responsible investing—an increase of 76% since 2012, according to the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in the U.S., or US SIF.

Nancy Somers, a Minneapolis–based life coach, began shifting parts of her portfolio about a decade ago into more SRI-oriented investments because “it’s important to me [to know] where my money is going and what it’s doing in the world,” she says. Somers invests in a mutual fund that tracks socially responsible companies, as well as bonds and other micro-lending vehicles that enable her to provide financing for people living in poverty.

“I researched a lot and found the funds that I felt were doing what I wanted [them] to do,” she says, noting that she’s owned her mutual fund for five years and has been very pleased with its performance. And her microfinance efforts “have enabled me to do one-on-one lending—I’ve gotten a lot of satisfaction out of it [and have been able to] support many people.”

Interested in putting your own money where your values are? We delve into four of the most common ways to get started with SRI, so that doing good goes from just being a warm and fuzzy feeling to something you can take to the bank.

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