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10 ways to invest for social justice

Because it's time we put our money where our mouth is.

While Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), LGBTQI and women make up historically marginalized communities — financially and socially — it’s time to position them at the forefront.

Investors can “identify and develop investments that advance racial equity,” says Matt Oneck, president and CEO of Mission Investors Exchange, an impact investing network for foundations working toward social and environmental change. “Individuals can use their investments to support the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight for social justice.”

Here are 10 ways to invest in social justice and long-term sustainability by rethinking where your money goes.

1. Invest in businesses owned by marginalized communities.

Use your money to directly support companies and initiatives that support social and racial justice. By investing in BIPOC-, LGBTQI- and women-owned businesses, you can help build community wealth.

Research individual stocks that share your social values and have a strong potential for returns. You can start with Racial Justice Investing, which is run by a coalition of investors that aim to combat structural racism through the power of finance. RJI’s resources include ways to support organizations that promote racial equity and justice and useful tools for investors to jump-start a socially conscious portfolio.

Another resource is Springboard Enterprises, whose mission is to empower women entrepreneurs through a network of mentors, investors and partner companies dedicated to building successful women-led companies in the technology and life science industries. See its list of partners for ideas of socially minded companies to invest in.

M1 Finance Community Pies

M1 Finance

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M1 Finance offers Community Pies, which are pre-made portfolios that target your investments to specific causes, like businesses led by people who are BIPOC, women, LGBTQ, AAPI or Latine, or those in sustainable businesses. You can pick one specific area to invest, or mix and match these portfolios with other stocks and ETFs.
Account typesBrokerage, Retirement, Robo-Advisor
Annual fee0%
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Asset typesStocks

2. Work with an investment adviser who understands your values.

Collaborating with an investment adviser that holds similar personal and moral values can make it easier for you to find socially responsible investments.

Paul Z. Shelton Jr., chief investment officer of Warwick Shore Advisors, tells Finder that a financial adviser can “often identify philanthropic opportunities for which clients can optimize their legacy in a socially responsible way.”

At financial adviser company GRID 202 Partners, racial diversity is at the heart of its approach to planning and investing. It partners with “a third-party company that collects employee surveys and to date has information on more than 150,000 companies and over 58,000 employees from S&P 500 companies,” according to Brian McKinney, a senior wealth adviser and certified financial planner at GRID 202 Partners.

So when your company puts social equity above all else, you don’t have to choose between greater returns and community impact.

3. Invest in crowdfunding campaigns for BIPOC-, LGTBQI- and women-owned startups.

If you prefer to get in on the ground floor before companies are publicly traded, opt to invest in BIPOC-, LGBTQI- and women-owned companies seeking funding.

Crowdfunding platforms and Facebook groups that focus on supporting BIPOC, LGTBQI and women entrepreneurs include:

    Explore different campaigns, dive into company missions and support founders whose values and goals resonate with you.

    4. Invest in ETFs that support racial and social justice.

    Instead of investing in individual stocks, another option is to invest in carefully curated groups of securities called exchange-traded funds — or ETFs — that focus on social justice investing.

    Shannon Terrell, investments expert at Finder, explains: “Think of them like investment baskets — a single ETF may contain any number of stocks, bonds or additional assets, which means purchasing one may help diversify your portfolio.”

    For investors interested in supporting racial justice, the Impact Shares NAACP Minority Empowerment ETF (NACP) may do the trick. It’s the first and only ETF that advocates for racial equality by including companies that meet social criteria defined by the NAACP and tracks the Morningstar Minority Empowerment Index.

    “This is a direct opportunity for investors to support racial justice organizations, as this nonprofit fund donates all net advisory profits to the NAACP,” says Terrell.

    Another fund to consider is the State Street Global Advisors (SSGA) Gender Diversity Index ETF (SHE), which selects companies that are leading the charge in advancing women in gender diversity through leadership and management positions.

    And if you’re interested in investing in companies that support LGBTQI equality in the workplace, look to the Workplace Equality Index ETF (EQLT). It includes only companies that score a 100% on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index.

    Acorns Sustainable Portfolios

    Acorns

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    Acorns offers Sustainable Portfolios that invest in ETFs that follow companies committed to managing social, environmental and governance risks.
    Account typesRetirement, Robo-Advisor
    Annual fee$1 per month
    Option trade fee$0

    5. Invest in large companies leading the way in support of social justice.

    Larger public companies are making strides to support social justice. These intentional steps to fight racial and gender inequality can start with a pledge to donate funds to racial equity organizations, support community programs and fund BIPOC-, LGTBQ- and women-owned small businesses.

    Bank of America has pledged $1 billion to help rectify underlying economic and social disparities. And Verizon has committed $10 million to social justice initiatives, including donations to the NAACP and the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation.

    Other companies that have pledged more than $1 million to organizations and funds supporting racial and social justice over the last year include:

    • Cisco
    • DoorDash
    • Etsy
    • Home Depot
    • Lego
    • Nike
    • Proctor and Gamble
    • Sephora
    • TikTok
    • UnitedHealth Group
    • YouTube
    • Zoom

    6. Join a peer-to-peer lending platform that works with underserved businesses.

    Consider peer-to-peer (P2P) lending companies that let you lend money directly to other people. Like Kiva, which allows you to learn about the businesses and people you’re investing in before you sign up.

    Anna Serio, a certified commercial loan officer and Finder’s lending expert, tells us: “Many platforms allow you to see the business’s grade rating, which is based on its creditworthiness — not its impact on the community. But peer-to-peer lending platforms put you in control and let you choose where your money goes.”

    Another socially conscious lending platform to invest through is SoLo Funds, which offers credit to marginalized communities who struggle to qualify for traditional funding from banks.

    But keep in mind the risk involved with this type of investing: The business or person may not be able to repay the loan. Both platforms try to minimize risk by giving investors as much information about the business or person you’re funding before you agree to the loan. Another tip is to diversify your portfolio by dedicating no more than 10% of your investment budget to P2P platforms.

    7. Invest in real estate initiatives that build up the local community.

    To prevent investing in real estate projects that drive out local communities, Tremaine Wills, an investment advisor at Mind Over Money, encourages her clients to purchase and take an ownership interest in Black communities.

    Aim to “elevate the quality of life in an area while maintaining affordable housing options for the existing population,” says Wills.

    One way to do this is by investing in a crowdinvesting platform like Buy the Block, which provides people with opportunities to come together and own a part of their community. While traditional real estate opportunities require significant capital, this platform spreads financial responsibility across multiple investors. And it means reinvesting your own wealth into the community.

    8. Join a bank or CDFI that reinvests profits into underserved communities.

    Socially minded investment opportunities can go beyond your portfolio. Where you bank can also be a vehicle for social justice.

    Consider a Black-owned bank — like OneUnited Bank, which reinvests profits in the local community “through low to moderate home loans, SBA loans, personal lines of credit and financial literacy programs,” according to Kevin Cohee, CEO of OneUnited.

    Or look into women-owned banks like the Banccentral National Association and Santa Anna National Bank, which both invest 76% of every dollar you deposit back into the community — 69% above the industry average.

    Looking to support the LGBTQI community? Consider joining Superbia Credit Union, the first LGBTQI-focused financial institution that plans to open later this year — though you can join today for updates on its progress. The credit union plans to donate 10% of revenue to initiatives working toward social and economic equality for all.

    Another option is to choose a designated community development financial institution (CDFI), which commits to supporting financially disadvantaged communities, as well as BIPOC- and women-owned businesses.

    Check out our guide to find a Black-owned bank near you. And explore Mighty Deposits to research other BIPOC- and women-owned banks and how they use your money to make an impact on the community.

    9. Take a closer look at where you spend your money.

    Investing in racial justice can be as simple as skipping the big-box stores to shop at local, BIPOC- and LGTBQ+-owned businesses instead. Spend your dollars responsibly by asking questions about the business’ racial equity policies.

    Check out a company’s website and social media to explore its values and how it aligns with your morals and ethics. And research its Just Capital ranking, which evaluates how each company cultivates a diverse and inclusive environment without discrimination.

    10. Invest in understanding your own biases.

    Do more to make a change by investing in yourself. Make a conscious effort to identify and understand your own biases and make changes to support the social justice movement in all areas of your life.

    One way to uncover, understand and dismantle racism is by reading, learning and listening to more powerful voices. Guides to get started include:

    You don’t need to choose between investing for profitable returns and promoting social justice. Learn more about investing and tweak your overall strategy to support socially responsible companies and fight for social equity.

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