What is SRI and How Can Non-Profits Align their Mission with their Dollars

Recently, I was sitting with a non-profit executive director and was introducing the topic of how to become more “green” when it comes to investing.  She somewhat interrupted me and said “Wait, are you saying that I don't have to own the horrible companies and at the same time can invest for my future and not sacrifice returns?” This question was extremely eye-opening to me as it really demonstrated how much further the world of sustainable investing has to grow.  The answer to her question was a resounding “Yes, you can align your personal values with your investments and do not have to sacrifice returns.”

Many of the non-profits here in the bay area are focused on bringing positive change to society and yet, in many cases, the companies they are invested in completely misalign with their own mission.  Because of this, we are kicking off a 3-part blog series titled, “What is SRI and How Can Non-Profits Align their Mission with their Dollars.” 

Part 1.

What exactly is SRI?

Sustainable and responsible investing is an investment discipline that considers environmental, social and corporate governance criteria (ESG) to generate long-term competitive financial returns and positive social or environmental impact.  Today, more than one out of every nine dollars under management in the United States is invested according to SRI strategies. That’s over $3 Trillion dollars! 


Some investors are driven by their personal values and goals, their institutional mission or the demands of their clients.  Some investors want strong financial performance, but also believe that these investments should be used to contribute to advancements in social, environmental and governance practices. Evidence is starting to show a strong link between ESG and financial performance.  And let’s face it, if you can screen out of your investments the “evil-doers” of the world, and at the same time not sacrifice your returns, then isn’t it a win-win? The 3 Pillars of SRI include:

    • * ESG Screening
    • * Shareholder Activism
    • * Community/Impact Investing

Stay tuned for our next blog post on how individual YNPN’ers can start to align their dollars with their values. 


Dale_Wannen_Picture.jpgThis is a guest blog by Dale Wannen, YNPN National Representative


Dale Wannen joined the YNPN board in 2013.  He is currently President of Sustainvest Asset Management, LLC, an investment advisory firm that focuses on sustainable and responsible investing.  Prior to starting Sustainvest, Dale was a portfolio manager at Harrington Investments and specialized in ESG investment strategies, securities analysis, and shareholder advocacy. He is often a guest speaker on the topic of ESG investing and shareholder advocacy.

Dale has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco and a BA in Economics from Rowan University. He also currently sits as Board of Director and Treasurer of San Francisco human rights organization, Global Exchange, teaches Economics for the Oakland non-profit Game Theory Academy and is a committee member for the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in San Francisco.

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