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.




Catching Our Eye | May 18

‘Catching Our Eye’ is a monthly collection of curated content from Invest for Better. This collection was featured in our May 18, 2023 e-newsletter.

Women Investing for a Sustainable Economy (WISE) is celebrating its 11th anniversary this month. Founded in April 2012, the WISE community was established as an informal gathering of like-minded women (pioneers!) in sustainable and impact investing. Members come from different professional pursuits and motivation but all are united by our purpose statement centered around building meaningful connections and supporting each other.

“What we found is what we hypothesized initially when we were pitching it, which is that there’s a significant amount of loyalty with people who feel like their company has gone way out of their way during a time that was very important to them” – a quote from Samanntha DuBridge, vice president of global benefits, culture, and engagement at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, speaking about why the company offers such robust paid parental leave policies. View article here.

To mark Stanford Social Innovation Review’s 20th anniversary, the world’s leading researchers, thinkers, and practitioners contribute their thoughts on the future of social innovation. Crystal Hayling, Executive Director of The Libra Foundation, contributed “A Vision for the Future of Philanthropy” writing “The people and planet are demanding that we let go of practices that no longer serve us.” View article here.

Leslie Samuelrich, President of Green Century Funds, was named to the new list of Barron’s 100 Most Influential Women in U.S. Finance, joining the ranks of prominent women including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other notable names in finance. From Green Money: “Samuelrich has been an articulate and powerful voice in promoting SRI for the past 10 years.” See article here.

Join Portfolia virtually as Trish Costello, Portfolia’s CEO, along with FemTech III Lead Partners, Jennifer Fried and Lauri Kien Kotcher, discuss the latest innovations in the FemTech and women’s health sectors in “Investing in Innovations in Women’s Health: What’s New in FemTech?”. Happening Thursday, May 18, 2023 11:00 am PT, you can register for the event here.

Sustainability measures go hand-in-hand with financial performance according to a new report by Bain & Company and EcoVadis. The report looks at 100,000 companies finding that those with higher employee satisfaction, renewable energy usage, and sustainable supply chains also perform higher on financial measures like revenue growth and profits. View report here.

Chief, a private membership network focused on conne cting and supporting women executive leaders, shares statistics on the impact of anti-Jewish tropes in its article “85% of Americans Believe an Anti-Jewish Trope. Here’s How the Bias Is Creeping Into the Workplace”. View article here.

“How electrification became a major tool for fighting climate change” from the New York Times has some great information graphics that help look at how Americans use energy today and how, by 2050, electricity would play a much bigger role in addressing the climate crisis. View article here.

ImpactAlpha identifies the following signs that impact investing is maturing: the use of bonds for community development finance (LISC’s Christina Travers and Kathleen Keefe), cultural arts (Deloitte’s Adriano Picinati di Torcello) and green academic buildings (HIP’s Srdana Pokrajac); follow-on emerging-market impact funds (Jessica Pothering); and “net zero” alliances among leading venture capital firms.

Private Investing (Part 3)

This is part three of a three-part content feature on Private Investing. Each month Invest for Better offers a special content feature that may be of interest to our members and our larger network of friends and colleagues.

What are Accredited and Non-Accredited Investors?

An accredited investor is anyone whose income exceeded $200,000 (or $300,000 with a spouse) in each of the prior two years and who reasonably expects the same for the current year. Or it is someone who has a net worth over $1 million, either alone or with a spouse (excluding the value of the person’s primary residence). An even higher bar is the Qualified Purchaser, who is an individual or legal entity with at least $5 million or more in investments.

If you do not meet these criteria, then you’re a non-accredited investor. Although many private and alternative investments are limited to accredited investors, there are a growing number of opportunities that are open to both accredited and non-accredited investors.

Learn more about private investing.

There are many opportunities to become involved in private investing – through equity, debt, and angel investing. Whether you’re an experienced investor or not, you can learn how to assemble a private investment portfolio you love.

Through Invest for Better, you can access training, mentorship, and collaborate with other women to support amazing entrepreneurs. Join us to learn more.


Financial Literacy is Not Enough

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 Janine Firpo
April 26, 2023


Dear friends,

This month, the American Bankers Association and others are celebrating National Financial Literacy Month. Financial literacy is defined as the “ability to understand the basic principles of finance, such as budgeting, investing, borrowing, taxation, and personal financial management. Although the word investing is included in the definition, it often gets short shrift when it comes to financial education. This is particularly true of the information provided to women. They are taught the basics, but then we drop the ball. Not only do we expect women to learn the more subtle art of investing on their own, our society tries to dissuade them from trying. 65% of finance articles written for women suggest that financial planning is difficult, yet 75% of features written for men tell them how to invest and grow their wealth.

Women are ready for something more. According to a 2021 study from Fidelity, 67% are now investing outside of retirement – compared to only 44% in 2018. And, 63% want to increase their understanding of financial planning and investing. Yet, only 33% see themselves as investors and only 19% see themselves as feeling confident enough to select investments that align with their goals. Doesn’t that feel like a bit of a disconnect to you? It means that half the women who are investing and want to learn more don’t even see themselves as investors and lack confidence in their financial abilities. We think that needs to change.

In addition, research shows that women are deeply concerned about the purpose of money and want it to have meaning beyond taking care of their financial needs and growing their wealth. As we strive to provide women with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed in investing, we must also recognize the importance of purpose-driven financial literacy and help women invest in a way that aligns with their values and goals.

As we celebrate Financial Literacy Month, let’s think beyond the basics and start imagining how we can provide women with the deep investment knowledge to create true prosperity for themselves and the broader world.





Private Investing (Part 2)

This is part two of a three-part content feature on Private Investing. Each month Invest for Better offers a special content feature that may be of interest to our members and our larger network of friends and colleagues.

Private investing provides opportunities for portfolio diversification and a very personal investment experience. It also allows us to make world-changing contributions. We can use our growing wealth to support the overlooked and underfunded female and minority-led businesses that we’d love to see thrive. We can also support innovative products and services that are designed from the ground up with our needs in mind, as opposed to having to make do with the feminization of male products. The more we invest in entrepreneurs and businesses that support our values, the more we signal that their products, services, and companies matter and that we do, too.

Be inspired – learn from other women who have embraced private investing.

Sylvia Mah, PhD is an active angel investor, entrepreneur, ecosystem builder, and passionate supporter of women-led businesses. She is unabashedly bold in striving to bring female founders to the forefront. The She Invests podcast is just one example of the many activities Sylvia uses to showcase innovative, socially responsible female entrepreneurs. In each episode, she interviews female angel investors about how they got involved, their investment thesis, and elements that have helped them succeed or, sometimes, fail.

We profiled Sylvia recently as part of our Member Profiles, you can view her profile here.

Research impact funds.

ImpactAssets 50 is a curated list of the top 50 impact funds and fund managers. The list is updated annually, providing an easy way to identify experienced and emerging impact fund managers. Private debt and private equity funds are included. Those who are seeking additional diversification can also explore the final asset class as they diversify through alternatives.

Join our community.

There are many opportunities to become involved in private investing – through equity, debt, and angel investing. Whether you’re an experienced investor or not, you can learn how to assemble a private investment portfolio you love. Through Invest for Better, you can access training, mentorship, and collaborate with other women to support amazing entrepreneurs. Join us to learn more.




Catching Our Eye | April 19

‘Catching Our Eye’ is a monthly collection of curated content from Invest for Better. This collection was featured in our April 19, 2023 e-newsletter.


JSTOR, a digital platform for academic resources covering over 75 disciplines, celebrates Women’s History Month with a great listing of articles. This month-long observance recognizes the contributions of women around the world—and throughout history.

The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) is featured in Rebecca Sherratt “The Big ESG proposals of 2023” – “The 2023 proxy season is now underway, with both companies and investors alike gearing up for a busy few months full of meetings and voting. Here are six types of shareholder proposals that are set to make waves in the coming season.”

Sallie Krawcheck of Ellevest recently wrote a piece that revisited the impact of “Lean In” (Sheryl Sandberg’s book on women and the workplace) as it celebrated its 10-year anniversary in early March. You can also read NYT’s article looking at the book’s impact at 5 years.

The Fortune 500 entered 2023 with 53 women CEOs (10.6%) (article). This is a new record and hopefully a stepping stone on the long road to gender parity in corporate leadership. This represents a marked improvement over the 2010 and 2000 women CEO levels of 3% and 0.4%, respectively.

Pensions & Investment’s ESG Investing Conference is taking place April 11-12, 2023 in Chicago, IL. From the website: “Despite the recent backlash from some questioning the risk-return outcomes of environmental, social, and governance investing, advances in data and research have proven it is not a fad”.

Global Strategy Group study found that despite the anti-ESG rhetoric capturing headlines, the vast majority of Americans want companies to speak out on social and political issues. Read the report.

Hamdi Ulukaya is featured in TIME Magazine article “Capitalism and Humanitarianism Can Coexist. Chobani’s CEO Is Trying to Prove It“.

ShePlace is hosting a social & book party for “It’s a Good Day to Change the World: Inspiration and Advice for a Feminist Future” on March 22, 2023 in Park City, Utah. Based on interviews from the award-winning podcast and radio show Inflection Point with Lauren Schiller (and Hadley Dynak), this beautiful and energizing book is an essential guide for action, featuring 30 groundbreaking activists, artists, entrepreneurs, and visionaries.

Bloomberg showcased new data detailing that companies have created more than 100,000 green jobs across wind and solar energy, EV manufacturing, and other sectors since the Inflation Reduction Act became law.

Ms. Foundation is celebrating 50 years of progress and power at the Women of Vision Awards on May 16, 2023. Held at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City, this year’s event will honor game-changing leaders and explore the past, present, and future of feminist movements — all while raising funds for the organization’s strategic, equity-centered initiatives.

Parallelle Finance was featured in a recent Investment News article, “Transparent gender data paves way for reaping gender-driven results”. They launched their gender lens scorecard in March that equips investors with metrics for the performance of women-centered investing.

Following the October 2021 introduction of the National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality by The White HouseU.S. Department of State unveiled the Strategy on Global Women’s Economic Security in January. This is the first-ever interagency strategy to advance the ability of women and girls globally to “fully, meaningfully, and equally contribute to, and benefit from, economic growth and global prosperity.”

Career Lessons Learned by Kimberly Gluck

In this series of articles exploring women and work, Kimberly Gluck shares lessons she has learned throughout her career. Kimberly manages balanced and equity portfolios for institutional and private wealth clients for Boston Trust Walden.



Profit Center vs. Cost Center

In the world of business, jobs can often be categorized into one of two groups: profit center jobs that are directly linked to generating new (or maintaining existing) revenues, or cost center jobs that are absolutely necessary but are not linked to increasing the top line of the organization (such as IT, human resources or compliance). Leadership opportunities, compensation, and visibility inside and outside the company are almost always greater in a profit center occupation.

Core Competency of Your Employer

If at all possible, try to work in a group or division which is part of the core competency or main enterprise of your employer. For example, if you work for the actively managed equity group within a large passive firm, such as my former employer, SSgA, it is highly likely that, eventually, your division will suffer from neglect. Just like a body suffering from hypothermia will protect the vital organs and the extremities will get very cold, companies will always protect the main sources of revenues and profit. If there is an economic downturn, and resources become scarce, the company will continue to invest in its core business and ignore businesses deemed less important to the company’s survival.

Objectively Observe Your Industry

We are all subject to the economics of our industry and economics shift over time. In the investment management industry, for example, the advent of cheap index funds and ETFs has put downward pressure on fees. This is a good development for investors, but it does create pressure on asset management firms and makes the industry more competitive. Knowing this backdrop has helped me understand the mindset of upper management where I worked and anticipate changes. Many other industries are also becoming more competitive and it is likely that you will need to adapt and become more productive to thrive. In fact, unless a firm has a big, competitive “moat” such as a patent or truly unique offering that is hard to replicate, competition is likely to increase over time.

Pay Attention to the Corporate Culture

You are likely to spend MOST of your waking hours at your job, especially when you are starting out. Working in a toxic environment where everyone is miserable is to be avoided. How can you tell? The most reliable way to figure this out is to find folks who no longer work at the company who are willing to tell you what it was like. You can also sometimes find out by asking simple indirect, open-ended questions, such as “what is it like to work here?” and watch the body language of the person responding. Or, you may be able to ask more targeted questions such as, “Do people ever socialize together outside of work?”, “Does this company do any charitable giving or service in the community?” or “Are there ever celebrations to mark employees’ milestones such as a marriage or birth of a child?” Some companies treat their employees like costs to be minimized or they encourage competition that kills collaboration. If you listen carefully, you can figure this out before you, too, become a miserable employee.

Insecure People are Dangerous People

We all know folks who are not sure about themselves. In my experience, they can be very difficult to work with because they will do things to make themselves look better. They will take credit for work they did not do, actively sabotage a rival, and generally behave in a snarky way. It is not always possible, but try to recognize and avoid insecure colleagues and bosses.

Think Hard About What You Really Like To Do

Are you an extrovert who likes to be in the company of others? Or, are you happier working out a complex problem on your own? What are you really happiest doing? What gives you a sense of purpose? Many people never stop to ask themselves these important questions and end up doing work that they don’t really enjoy. If you are doing a job you enjoy, days and weeks will fly by, which is infinitely better than having a pit in your stomach on Sunday nights because you are dreading Monday. Also, if you are not sure about a career, try interviewing someone doing the work you think you want to do and ask a lot of questions. Listen to the answers and imagine yourself in that line of work. Many miserable lawyers could have avoided racking up a pile of law school debt and being stuck on the legal treadmill if they thought how much they would hate working to maximize their billable hours.

Evolve as You Go

Each successive job should give you an opportunity to focus more on the kind of work that you are good at and enjoy. When you are contemplating changing jobs, spend some time thinking about what you like and do not like about the job you have been doing. In your next job, try to maximize the responsibilities you enjoy and eliminate or de-emphasize the ones you did not enjoy, leveraging your prior success performing these responsibilities.

Get Promises in Writing

This is extremely important, particularly as you advance in your career. At various points in time, leaders have made vague promises to me and I have taken them at their word. Do not do this as it does not typically end well. Leaders will forget (or pretend to forget), get themselves fired or just up and quit. If you have been offered new position within your organization, a promotion, a pay raise, whatever, ask for this offer to be written out in a letter so that you can fully understand the details. If you are unclear on a specific detail, ask about that detail and request a reply in writing. Do not leave important details to chance or fuzzy memories.

Look at the Leadership

Are there any women? People of color? If the company is not diverse at the top (including Board level and senior management), this is very telling. If you are a woman or person of color, it is going to be harder to get into leadership ranks unless the company has a very strong commitment (in public and in writing!) to change.

For Important Meetings, PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE

Being unprepared for a client meeting makes you look sloppy and unprofessional. In contrast, you can make a very positive impression by spending time reviewing the client’s circumstances and understanding their account(s) before you meet them. This is HUGE, particularly for a first meeting. Also, you will want to prepare carefully for your annual review. Know your accomplishments, the revenues you generate (if applicable), the resources you use and your goals. You are much more likely to succeed in getting what you need if you are prepared and can quantify your work.

Downside Risk

When considering a career move, taking on new responsibilities or contemplating some other big decision, it is important to ask yourself: what is the worst thing that can happen and can I live with it? I have been offered jobs with hedge funds that I did not take because, while I could have made a lot more money, some hedge funds “blow up” with terrible performance. A company with only ONE investment product has always been too risky for me. Use your imagination and think about what you have to lose. Could you cope with that loss?

Express Your Gratitude

As Nick Lopardo (former President of SSgA) used to say, unexpressed gratitude isn’t gratitude. If you never tell folks who have helped you that you appreciate their assistance, they will think that you do not appreciate it. This means that if you ever have to go back and ask again for a favor, they will be less inclined to help you. It is important to thank everyone for even the smallest of favors, preferably in writing (not email).

Your Integrity is EVERYTHING

Be honest and trustworthy. Once your reputation is gone, it is impossible to get it back and you will miss it dearly. It is like toothpaste – you cannot get it back in the tube!

Pay It Back and Forward

If someone you meet is just starting out and learning how to look for a job or someone needs career advice, do your best to help them! Review their resume, practice interview, and share your network because you never know when it will be YOU who needs the help.

Private Investing (Part 1)

This is part one of a three-part content feature on Private Investing. Each month Invest for Better offers a special content feature that may be of interest to our members and our larger network of friends and colleagues.

Private investing can be exciting, a great way to build community,  and be highly impactful! When you make a private investment, you could be supporting an individual company or a venture capital or private equity fund. The goals might be to support female entrepreneurs, the coffee shop around the corner from your home, or innovative start-ups in the US or another country. Each investment is unique in terms of financial return and impact.

Private investing can also be quite risky. As a result, these investments were rarely available to non-accredited investors until quite recently. With the passage of the 2012 JOBS Act, which went into effect in 2016, it became much easier for private companies to open their investment offerings to non-accredited investors, who can now participate for as little as $100. Many funds, however, are still only available to the largest investors at very high minimums.  To safeguard against potential financial ruin, the SEC placed limits on how much investors can allocate to higher-risk investments in any given year.

Because of the risk, financial experts strongly advise that you invest no more than 5% to 10% of your total net worth excluding your primary residence in this asset class, unless you have deep pockets or have a large appetite for risk. Regardless, you should only invest what you’re willing—and able—to lose. It is suggested that you start small, do your due diligence, and increase your investment sizes only as you gain experience.

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.