Bringing the Power and Joy of Values-Aligned Investing to the Women’s Philanthropic Community

Every month our co-founders, Janine Firpo and Ellen Remmer, share their thoughts on a range of topics, some specific to Invest for Better and some not. These ‘opening letters’ are part of our e-newsletters and they provide a great glimpse into the happenings of our organization and larger community.

Letter from Ellen Remmer
April 12, 2023


Dear friends,

It has always been my dream to bring the power and joy of values-aligned investing to the women’s philanthropic community. One of the first thought leadership pieces I wrote about the topic was Navigating the Territory: A Guide to Impact Investing for Donors, in many ways chronicling my own path from a committed philanthropist who made social change out of “one purse” to a committed social investor who took a “whole purse” approach. After starting Invest for Better, we received a grant from Fidelity Charitable to write another piece, Amplifying Your Impact Through Impact Investing, more of a workbook that gives the donor an opportunity to reflect on how philanthropy and investing could serve their goals.

Two weeks ago I was thrilled to moderate a panel at the Women’s Philanthropy Institute’s All In, All Rise Symposium in Chicago for a session entitled, ‘All In For Impact: How to Use Philanthropy and Impact Investing for Change’, with awesome Invest for Better members Mary Hawkins and Janell Johnson. In a packed room of about 100 female philanthropists and fundraisers, less than 10% admitted that they had taken the time and initiative to align their investments with their values. This is an untapped opportunity. These women care deeply about being part of the change they want to see in the world and yet they are not using the power that they have – in the sector of the economy that rules the world! The audience eagerly took notes about how to get started and where they could invest. Post-panel interest included a university fundraiser who committed to start an Invest for Better Circle among her alumnae!

Women’s Philanthropy Institute research shows that women are more likely to add impact investing to their arsenal of social change tools, while men are more likely to replace their philanthropy with investing. All we need to do is inspire them and help them take action. Let’s ask the women philanthropists in our lives to join Invest for Better and we’ll support them every step of the way.





IFB Latest News

Every month our co-founders, Janine Firpo and Ellen Remmer, share their thoughts on a range of topics, some specific to Invest for Better and some not. These ‘opening letters’ are part of our e-newsletters and they provide a great glimpse into the happenings of our organization and larger community.

Letter from Ellen Remmer
May 18, 2023


Dear friends,

I’m having so much fun co-leading a Circle in this Spring’s cohort. Since the first Invest for Better Circle cohort launched in Fall 2020, we have transformed the curriculum to align with Janine’s book, Activate Your Money, and worked diligently to incorporate your feedback to make the Circle experience meaningful and accessible to all – no matter the level of wealth and experience. Our first Circle meeting, focused on money stories and financial archetypes, was truly powerful and I look forward to the upcoming one on risks and rewards.

Kudos and huge thank you to Tuti Scott and Gwendolyn Van Sant who were guest speakers at our recent Circle Leader monthly training zoom, talking about Building Engagement with Joy. Bring the energy. Pause for 8 seconds. Ask open-ended questions. Show cultural humility when sharing your story. These were just some of the nuggets of engagement shared by this phenomenal duo, who co-led a Circle in 2022. This week, guest speaker Marty Martin’s session on Moving to Action was filled with incredibly valuable insights to help leaders understand what it takes to catalyze real behavioral change. And in June, we look forward to hearing from Gretchen Steidle who will help current and former Circle leaders cultivate their Inner Leadership. These new sessions represent our commitment to making the Circle leader experience so valuable that you tell all your friends about it!

Finally, I am excited to see some of you at our May 31st Regional Event in Seattle. I’ll be in town visiting family and friends and look forward to meeting new friends who care about women investing for a better world. We are grateful to Steering Committee member Melanie Audette and Education Advisor Jill Bamburg for co-hosting this event at Melanie’s beautiful new office building at Rainer Square. Please come and bring friends! And if you don’t live in Seattle, let us know if you would like to co-host an event in your part of the country.




Invest for Better’s Ellen Remmer Presenting at “We Give Summit”

Ellen Remmer, co-founder of Invest for Better, will be presenting at the We Give Summit. This virtual event will be held on Tuesday, May 2 and is designed for members and advocates of collective giving who want to celebrate their power to disrupt philanthropy.

The We Give Summit is an interactive platform that brings together hundreds of individuals to connect and learn from each other. The summit features dozens of incredible speakers who have made a significant impact at the local, national, and global level. They have done so by joining forces with others who share their passion and vision for philanthropy.



The summit will cover a wide range of topics and feature sessions, lightning talks, and networking sessions. By registering for the event, you will gain access to all of these opportunities, including Ellen Remmer’s session on May 4 at 2 PM ET/ 11 AM PT, entitled “Unlocking the Power of Finance” (see agenda here).

Ellen is excited to share her insights on the power of finance in philanthropy. Her session will focus on the strategies and tactics that investors can use to create positive social and environmental impact through their investments.





Invest for Better presenting at Women’s Philanthropy Institute Symposium

Ellen Remmer, co-founder of Invest for Better, was part of a panel discussion called “All in for Impact: How to use Philanthropy and Impact Investing for Change” at the “All In, All Rise Symposium”  hosted by Women’s Philanthropy Institute on March 28, 2023.

This panel session explored the opportunity for women to magnify their impact on the social and environmental issues they care about through deploying the tools of philanthropy and investing. In a conversation moderated by Maggi Alexander, Senior Partner and Director of The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI)’s Center for Global Philanthropy, panelists shared their journeys to understand and utilize philanthropy and impact investing, including how they seek to integrate both for catalytic change in thematic areas such as gender equity, racial equity, and environmental sustainability.

Speakers included:

Janell Johnson and Mary Hawkins are IFB members.



About the Symposium

All In, All Rise” is the sixth symposium hosted by WPI since 2005. The two-day event included keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and opportunities for attendees to network.

Women’s Philanthropy Institute’s Symposium is the only gathering of its kind that:

  • Focuses exclusively on the broad landscape of women and philanthropy
  • Convenes speakers with wide-ranging backgrounds and experiences
  • Fosters a community of big, bold thinkers, innovators, and doers who can and will accelerate social change
  • Promotes networking and relationship building by limiting registration to 500 attendees
  • Connects the dots between research and practice, leaving attendees with concrete lessons they can use in their work and their giving





Raising Our Voices on Anti-ESG Legislation

Every month our co-founders, Janine Firpo and Ellen Remmer, share their thoughts on a range of topics, some specific to Invest for Better and some not. These ‘opening letters’ are part of our e-newsletters and they provide a great glimpse into the happenings of our organization and larger community.

Letter from Ellen Remmer
March 22, 2023


Dear friends,

Many thanks to all of you who responded to our appeal to urge the White House to veto House Resolution 30, anti-ESG legislation that would make it extremely difficult for the fiduciaries who manage our pension and retirement funds to consider risks related to climate change, gender inequities, poor working conditions, and other ESG (environmental, social, governance) analysis in their investment decisions. In issuing his first veto yet, President Biden concurred with our view that passage “would put at risk retirement savings of individuals across the country.”

Sadly, we anticipate more of these types of efforts at the local, state, and federal levels in the election season ahead.  As Andy Behar of As You Sow said in an Invest for Better Activation webinar last month, these politicians have chosen to “turn financial markets into cultural grievances – all political theater for their own gain.”

Invest for Better is – decidedly – not a political organization.  We want to take the politics out of this discussion and let individuals invest their retirement accounts the way they want, in alignment with their values.  Sometimes that means we need to raise our voices and be heard.



The Power of Community

Every month our co-founders, Janine Firpo and Ellen Remmer, share their thoughts on a range of topics, some specific to Invest for Better and some not. These ‘opening letters’ are part of our e-newsletters and they provide a great glimpse into the happenings of our organization and larger community.

Letter from Ellen Remmer
February 22, 2023


Community is what we are all about. And that’s what over 30 of us celebrated this week when we gathered for a cocktail party in Boston. In addition to the many Invest for Better members (including several from the very first IFB Circle!) and Circle leaders who attended, we were delighted to be joined by numerous members of the WISE network. It was a gathering of remarkable women who share the goal of creating a movement to build a healthier economy. We shared success stories, talked about opportunities for the future, and made new connections through a “give and ask” round-robin. And we all agreed that coming together in person nourishes both individuals and the community! Many thanks to Steering Committee Kathleen McQuiggan for hosting this event.

Our recent Activation session with Andy Behar of As You Sow was also a testament to the power of community. Presenting on the theme of Anti-ESG is Anti-Business, Andy educated attendees about the small handful of well-funded disinformation players behind the successful political push to ban ESG investing from state pension funds and take over corporate boards, as well as emerging efforts to push back with real facts about the power of ESG investing to evaluate risk and strengthen returns. IFB members were excited about the opportunities Andy presented to counter this dangerous push, including joining the Amplify ESG platform, and promoting social media messages that correct misinformation and clarify the truth about ESG. To apply to join Amplify ESG, use this form. To watch the recording of this remarkable session with Andy, go here.

One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from Margaret Mead’s wise words: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” That’s the power of community. And that’s the power of Invest for Better.






“Philanthropy or Investing: Why Not Both?”

“Philanthropy or Investing: Why Not Both?” by Ellen Remmer
is an excerpt From “Feminist Giving: Creating New Frontiers in Social Change”

After 25 years focused on both her own philanthropy and advising others,  Ellen Remmer became persuaded that philanthropy alone was not enough to make big societal changes.

“The deeper I got into impact investing, the more I was persuaded,” says Remmer.  “It connected me to my money in new and different ways, and it was so much more interesting personally. Moreover, I realized that many of the societal problems we want to solve are caused (in part) by problems in the capital markets and/or can only be solved through the capital markets. Think gender and racial equity, for one!”

Remmer is part of a minority of women in our culture who have pursued their interest in impact investing to the point of actually doing it. While more women are finally moving into impact investing today, Remmer wants to add to that momentum and make sure they are equipped with knowledge and guidance to not just do impact investing, but do it well.

A projected $400 billion or more will be directed to impact investments in 2020, a dramatic increase from $80 billion in 2011. But Remmer notes that there is a disconnect between women’s interest in the field and the actions they currently take with their investments.

Invest for Better launched as a project of TPI in early 2019 in collaboration with a coalition of national leaders from organizations like Mission Investor Exchange, Mission Throttle, and the Case Foundation. In 2021, Remmer spun it out as an independent nonprofit, with co-founder Janine Firpo, author of the acclaimed book Activate Your Money:  Invest to Grow Your Wealth and Build a Better World.

“We know that women are hungry to learn more about how to invest with their values,” Remmer says. “We help build their knowledge base and make it easy for them to activate their investments for impact.”

Getting Together with Other Women and Making It Happen

The primary way that Invest for Better gets women active is by offering them the opportunity to join or lead Invest for Better Circles, groups of 6-15 peers who meet either in person or virtually over a 6-month period, using a curriculum based on Janine’s book. As part of the experience, each woman establishes a “move your money goal” and commits to an action step. These action steps include things like, “I will talk to my partner about allocating some or all of our shared investments to impact”, or “I will better understand how my cash is invested and choose a bank that matches my values.” Others may be about finding a new financial advisor or making an angel investment. So far, over 800 women have been part of an Invest for Better Circle  “This is really about accelerating things,” says Remmer, “and getting women to understand that values-aligned and impact investing are possible and there are many ways to do it.”

One way Remmer sees impact investing having big potential is with Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) investments.    “Not enough people know about the opportunity to invest in their own communities through CDFIs,” says Remmer, noting that CDFIs are generally a more secure investment than stocks, and pay a guaranteed return. “I just had coffee with this amazing woman, Catherine Berman, who has started an impact investing firm called C-Note which invests in CDFIs throughout the country.” The annual return on CDFIs through C-Note is 2.75% with no fees. Recently, the firm also launched The Wisdom Fund, which is specifically aimed at increasing capital access for women-owned businesses.

“If you start to change the face of the investing community so women are more deeply involved, you’re going to change the nature of what we’re investing in, and who we invest in,” says Remmer. She sees this happening both in philanthropy and in finance, and has been a frontrunner in both of those movements. She and her sisters and mother started a family foundation about 30 years ago, focusing on disadvantaged girls, an idea that was barely registering on the radar of philanthropy at the time.

While philanthropy directed exclusively to women and girls still only makes up a small fraction of philanthropy, it’s an area of philanthropy experiencing intense growth now, alongside capital investments directed at gender equality. Between the two, Remmer is on a mission to help remove limitations for women, and shift their understanding of the role they can play.

“I’ve been a philanthropic supporter of the work that Joy Anderson of Criterion Institute is doing, and it’s exciting to see so many people trying to get in on it now,” Remmer said. Ranked by Fast Company as one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business, Joy Anderson has been highly instrumental in laying the foundation for social impact investing, particularly for women.

Remmer also sees women doing creative things with their Donor Advised Funds, and was an early adopter of these techniques.  “I’ve got about four different deals through my DAF at the Boston Foundation,” she says. Remmer says some of these investments are in the form of recoverable grants and some take other forms, but the bottom line is that money that was formerly “just sitting there” is now activated for social and environmental impact.

Using Donor Advised Funds for Catalytic Strategies

“With my DAF, I’m willing to take higher risks,” says Remmer. “I’ve done a lot more local things with my DAFs. One is a social finance bond here in Massachusetts, and another supports the Boston Impact Initiative, which invests in a diverse and inclusive economy. I also have one with an energy breakthrough group called Prime.

Remmer referenced the expanding realm of vehicles that women can explore if they want to do more impact investing. “The bottom line is that women have to think more about the investing side of things across the board.” Doing so will likely lead to the kind of epiphany she had two decades ago when she started learning about impact investing with a gender lens.

“It used to be that we gave away 5% of our foundation, and we didn’t even think about the rest,” says Remmer, noting that now her family foundation is 100% invested for impact. That epiphany led her to develop a passion for the field, which is now converging with other cultural factors driving the growth of the approach, particularly for women. “The point is, I went through a personal journey with impact investing, and while philanthropy is fantastic, I wasn’t using the power of what I had in all of those other resources.”

Excerpt From:
“Feminist Giving: Creating New Frontiers in Social Change”
by Kiersten Marek.

This material may be protected by copyright.

Veris Wealth Partners: Women, Wealth & Impact

Growing the number of impact investors working to address the world’s most pressing problems has long been part of Veris Wealth Partners’ vision and mission. Co-Founders Janine Firpo and Ellen Remmer were asked questions about Invest for Better and their approach to growing an impact movement focused on empowering women investors.

Lebec Consulting: Interview with Janine Firpo & Ellen Remmer | Women We’ve Been Waiting For

Janine Firpo and Ellen Remmer, our co-founders sat down with Lebec Consulting to talk about why women shouldn’t shy away from investing, but instead gravitate toward it—particularly impact investing—and how they actually make some of the most impactful and successful investors when they do.

Reflections, Silver Linings, and Hope

Photo credit: Umarengr, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: Umarengr, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


I enjoy the annual rite of reflection and planning that January brings.  But wow, what a year it has been to look back on, and, as January unfolds in unprecedentedly volatile times, what a hard year it is for planning ahead.  As a white, privileged woman with grown kids, whose work largely consists of sitting at a computer, I was spared any significant impact this last year. (In the big picture, does it really matter that my daughter had 12 guests instead of 240 at her wedding? No, and there’s a lot to recommend for it. ) Nonetheless, I am changed forever by what I learned about the deep inequities embedded in our society. I came away from this year with only a stronger conviction that it takes all sectors – governmental, philanthropic and market – to reshape our planet, economy and society.  And despite all the challenges ahead, I believe that this will be a year of hope, healing and collaboration.


At Invest for Better it was a year of many silver linings.  While the pandemic forced us to shift our Invest for Better Circle to an online format and Circle members missed the chance to be together in person, it also allowed the model to scale more quickly and widely.  Volunteer leaders stepped up by the scores to launch Circles in our first global Cohort and recruited co-leaders and members from all over the country, and in Canada, the Caribbean and South Africa.  The Circle model clearly met a felt need to be in community with other like-minded women and to problem solve together about how financial investments could make a dent on systemic issues such as racism and sexism.  Circles were able to access awesome expert speakers who would not have been able to attend in-person meetings, drawing upon Invest for Better’s Speakers’ Bureau and their own personal networks.  With the virtual model, Invest for Better was able to help Circle Leaders enroll members from our ever-growing list of inquiries, and to provide Cohort wide programming, such as “Ask the Expert” webinars on investment fundamentals and thematic investing.


The Cohort model also resonated with the 60+ leaders of 30+ Circles who met for monthly zoom calls, sharing tips, learning from one another and providing Invest for Better with valuable feedback on ways to strengthen and customize the model for a wide diversity of populations.  I am humbled by their servant leadership, and by their willingness to volunteer their time and energy to bring more women to the table.  We began to feel, collectively, that the movement was building.


So I dare to look forward with hope to 2021, for Invest for Better and for the world.  The sustainable investing market continues to gain enormous traction, as evidenced by US SIF’s recent report and investors want to do more.  At Invest for Better, we are launching a new Leader Cohort in April and invite all of you who care about using the markets for social good to join us.   Be a champion and join our movement of like-minded leaders.