“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.

Deep Dive Courses: An Offering for Invest for Better Members

Invest for Better’s Deep Dives are 3-month “elective” courses that complement our signature 6-month Core Curriculum on values-aligned investing. Like our 6-month Circles, these 3-month experiences will provide curated learning materials and engage women in conversations with other women in small groups that meet every month. They are designed to take participants deeper into topics of interest—and provide the knowledge and confidence to take action. Some courses will follow the self-guided format of the core curriculum, while others will be primarily “live” sessions facilitated by an expert.

Five Deep Dive Courses are currently available:

These offerings allow members to construct a personalized learning journey on a timeline that works for them—choosing a custom sequence from several years’ worth of course content that will be available. Invest for Better will continue to develop and add more Deep Dive Courses.

Those enrolled in a 6-month Circle can continue meeting alongside members of their current Circle on these Deep Dive topics—or choose to join a new Circle for this experience. New Invest for Better members with extensive prior experience in values-aligned investing may choose to enroll in Deep Dive courses without having completed the core curriculum (Learn more about this membership option here).

Part of what makes the on-going series of courses so valuable and unique is that they are being developed by industry experts specifically for the IFB community. In between expert sessions, participants can utilize the Invest for Better Mighty Network platform to engage with the course creators or other experts, who will monitor – and respond to – questions posed there.

Open enrollment for Fall Deep Dive courses ended on October 18th, but openings may be available. If you would like to enroll, please contact info@investforbetter.org.

Introducing Our New Deep Dive Course – The Racial Wealth Gap: Past, Present & Potential for Change

Join Us for Invest for Better Day – September 15, 2022

The second annual Invest for Better Day is coming on Thursday, September 15, 2022 and we’re mobilizing a ‘Day of Action’ to catalyze women across the country and beyond to each take a small action step to invest for a better future!

We have put together a list of 10 things you can do on the 15th – you can do one thing on the list or do them all!

 

 

 

10 THINGS TO DO FOR INVEST FOR BETTER DAY

1.     Find a new bank on Mighty Deposits
2.     Look inside your stock funds on Invest Your Values
3.     Have a conversation with a friend about how they invest their money
4.     Watch a video to build your investing muscles
5.     Talk to your financial advisor or find one who invests your values
6.     Sign up for Invest for Better’s monthly newsletter
7.     Read Activate Your Money
8.    Connect with other women who invest their values
9.     Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter
10.  Help us grow the movement – share this list with your network

 

ENTER TO WIN A BUNDLE OF BOOKS FROM THE IFB COMMUNITY  

 

We’re excited to feature some of the women who are part of the IFB community and their writings as a raffle prize for those participating in IFB Day. By sharing one of our social posts on IFB Day, you will be entered to win a bundle of books that includes the following:

 

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

 

To enter the drawing/raffle, you can either tag IFB or hashtag #InvestforBetterDay on social media posts.  Details for each social network are below:

  • On Twitter tweet and share your small action (tag @InvestforBetter and/or include #InvestforBetterDay)
  • On LinkedIn post and share your small action (tag @InvestforBetter and/or include #InvestforBetterDay)
  • On Instagram post and share your small action (tag @investforbetter_ifb and/or include #InvestforBetterDay)
  • On Facebook post and share your small action (tag @investforBetterTPI and/or include #InvestforBetterDay)

 

WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED SEPT. 16, 2022 

 

We will randomly select a winner from those who share (and tag) social posts. The winner will be announced on September 16, 2022 on our social media accounts.

We hope you’ll participate by taking an action step to align your money with your values on September 15th and encouraging others in your life to do the same!

 

 

 

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Deep Dive Courses: A New Offering for Invest for Better Members

Starting in July, Invest for Better is launching 3-month “elective” courses that will complement our signature 6-month core curriculum on values-aligned investing. Like our 6-month Circles, these 3-month experiences will provide curated learning materials and engage women in conversations with other women in small groups that meet every month. They are designed to take participants deeper into topics of interest—and provide the knowledge and confidence to take action. Some courses will follow the self-guided format of the core curriculum, while others will be primarily “live” sessions facilitated by an expert.

Four “Deep Dive Courses” will be available to members in this first round (July-September 2022):

These new offerings allow members to construct a personalized learning journey on a timeline that works for them—choosing a custom sequence from several years’ worth of course content that will be available. Invest for Better will be adding additional Deep Dive Courses every quarter, and members will have another opportunity to take these courses or additional yet-to-be-announced Deep Dives starting in October (and about every three months going forward).

Those enrolled in a 6-month Circle can continue meeting alongside members of their current Circle on these Deep Dive topics—or choose to join a new Circle for this experience. New Invest for Better members with extensive prior experience in values-aligned investing may choose to enroll in Deep Dive courses without having completed the core curriculum (Learn more about this membership option here).

Part of what makes the on-going series of courses so valuable and unique is that they are being developed by industry experts specifically for the IFB community. In between expert sessions, participants can utilize the Invest for Better Mighty Network platform to engage with the course creator, who will monitor – and respond to – questions posed there.

The links above provide additional information about the content and structure of each Deep Dive course, introduce the course creators, and detail the time investment necessary.  In late June we will assemble Circles for each course and specific virtual Circle meeting times will be scheduled based on member availability. To sign up for a Deep Dive course, please complete the Deep Dive Course Enrollment Form as soon as possible. If you have questions, please contact info@investforbetter.org.

In addition to the Summer courses above, we have a special course starting in September aimed at young women and their mentors called the Financial Courage Immersion Lab. This course requires separate registration via Eventbrite using the link provided in the Event Description. Additional Deep Dive courses will launch in October as well.

Marketing and Outreach Manager Position Description

About Invest for Better: Invest for Better (IFB) is nonprofit organization, founded in 2021, that seeks to empower women in the US and globally to understand the power of their investment assets, learn how to align their investments with their values, and activate them to make a more just and sustainable world. Our primary programs are:

  • Invest for Better Circles – small groups of 8-20 women who participate in a 6-month structured learning and community building experience
  • Leadership development – we recruit and train volunteer peer Circle Leaders to manage the transformative Circle experiences in leadership cohorts
  • Membership in a trusted investing community – we provide ongoing education, access to experts, peer support and opportunities to participate in ongoing programs.

In 2 years, IFB has directly engaged over 750 women through nearly 70 Invest for Better Circles, as well as influenced thousands more. Our membership program launched in January 2022 and already includes 450 members. We aim to grow to 1,000 members by year end and 15,000 members in 5 years.

Summary of Position

Invest for Better is looking for its first Marketing and Outreach Manager. This half-time contract position will serve a critical role in our goals to scale the reach and impact of the IFB membership and Circle model, as well as to expand our network of movement partnerships. The Manager will be part of a leadership team that includes the Co-founders and the Program Manager, supported by a Marketing and Program Assistant. They will be responsible for developing and executing a marketing, social media and outreach strategy.

Job Title: Marketing & Outreach Manager

Location: Remote/Virtual

Time Commitment: Contract, 20 hours per week

Compensation: $35 per hour

Reports to: Co- Founders

Start Date: ASAP

Key Responsibilities:

Marketing

  • Develop and implement a marketing/outreach plan to increase Invest for Better’s ability to recruit and maintain Circle Leaders and members
  • Identify potential partners, aligned networks, speaking opportunities, and media sources
  • Ensure successful implementation and revisions to plan based on successes and learnings
  • Identify content, write, and edit copy for IFB marketing materials, including emails and blog posts
  • Manage design and production of marketing materials/messaging for key programs and campaigns
  • Maintain and make regular updates to the IFB website, working with the website developer to update and ensure proper hosting, accounts, and services
  • Ensure consistency of brand messaging internally and externally, updating and monitoring brand story regularly
  • Work with the Program Manager to maintain and develop strategies to increase member engagement with our digital member platform

Social Media

  • Assess current social media channels, including YouTube, and develop a targeted social media approach and plan that will lead to the greatest levels of followers and engagement
  • Strengthen power and reach of social media channels by shifting IFB to an approach that engages with and activates participation and followers
  • Develop social media schedule, campaigns, and key themes; updating and revising as needed for continued engagement
  • Identify segments within Activation Series, training, and other videos to strengthen social media engagement
  • Oversee and manage administrative staff to execute social media plan, develop video snips, and verify content before publication
  • On an ongoing basis, track social media channels to identify content that receives the most traction and adjust plan accordingly

Events and Programs

  • Assist with content development as needed to ensure materials have a professional look and feel
  • Work with co-founders to identify and engage Activation Series and Ask the Expert speakers
  • Oversee administrative staff on general event preparation, including Eventbrite set-up, social media calendar, email updates, and other tasks
  • Ensure successful delivery of virtual events

Qualifications

  • Minimum of 3 – 5 years’ experience in a marketing, social media, and communications role
  • Interest in and commitment to Invest for Better’s mission, vision, values, and beliefs
  • Self-starter with attention to detail, ability to lead multiple projects simultaneously
  • Eye for design and ability to create visually compelling marketing and other engagement materials across multiple platforms
  • Proven experience designing and developing marketing materials, email newsletters, web pages, and other communications formats
  • Expertise and interest in leveraging social media and networking sites to build membership and engagement; experience with Hootsuite and YouTube preferred
  • Exceptional writing and editorial skills with understanding of voice, nuance, and audience
  • Strong user abilities in graphic design, video editing, and email marketing software/platforms, preferably Mail Chimp, Canva, and Adobe Creative Cloud (InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, etc.)
  • Proficient in WordPress and knowledge of HTML preferred
  • High level of proficiency using all Microsoft Office applications, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.
  • Prior management experience, or readiness to move into a management role

Equal Opportunity

Invest for Better is committed to the diversity of its workforce and strongly encourages applicants from all cultures, races, educational backgrounds, socio-economic classes, sexual orientations, age, gender, and physical abilities to apply. We do not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, familial status, marital status, caregiver status, or any other category protected by applicable federal, state, or local law.

To apply for this position, please submit cover letter and resume to jobs@investforbetter.org.

Pathfinder: Anna Smukowski

Anna is passionate about values-aligned investing, with a specific focus on community development and conservation. Professionally, she serves as LISC’s senior director of Investor Relations & Capital Strategies, working to introduce, position and market LISC’s work to nontraditional investors through LISC’s retail Impact Note program. She supports strategies aimed at growing LISC’s loan capital, including modeling financial and social returns of LISC’s products. Prior to LISC she was a strategy and operations consultant at Deloitte. Anna holds a B.S. from NYU Stern and an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School.

Why I co-led an Invest for Better circle & Why you should too!

I am the founder and host of OUR MONEY POWER – a podcast for women who are ready to stand in their money power and invest with their values. I started the podcast last year, for many of the same reasons that I got involved with Invest for Better.  I had my own “financial awakening” just a few years back when I realized I could no longer sit on the sidelines of my own money power, as so many of us are socialized to do.  Women don’t tend to talk about money or investments with each other, as men do – and that keeps us playing small. It certainly doesn’t help us build wealth or have agency around our money.

Women tend be better investors than men, we just don’t believe that about ourselves. Research also shows that women are much more likely to move their money in community or within circles of other women – which is why the Invest for Better model is so powerful!

IFB welcomes women exactly where they are on their investment journey – whether total beginners or more experienced investors who want to deepen their knowledge about gender-lens and impact investing. As a mission-driven person, the concept of investing with my values really resonated with me. I loved the idea of peer-to-peer learning circles too. Having recently co-led two IFB circles, I have experienced the impact of this model first-hand, for participants and co-leaders alike. My learning circles ended up being great for accountability too – as we would share our “money moving” wins at the end of each session.

My first money move in my IFB circle was to look at my retirement accounts – and for the first time examine what I was actually invested in – as I’d never paid attention before. It was very exciting to learn that I could move some of my investments in my Roth IRA to funds more supportive of women’s leadership – without any tax consequences. Looking at my investments through the lens of what I valued most, made investing so much more interesting! I learned that I could grow my money  — AND support what I valued. I got so inspired that I wanted to bring other women along.

This curiosity was my starting point for joining the incredibly welcoming Invest for Better women’s community. I knew I wanted to join a circle – though I was very hesitant and nervous to lead one because I didn’t have a background in the financial services sector and believed I was at the beginning of my own investment journey. Fortunately, IFB co-founder, Ellen Remmer, encouraged me to lead a circle anyway – and then matched me with a co-lead who had a professional financial services background. I had such a positive experience co-leading my first circle, that I eagerly decided to co-lead a second group (and intend to co-lead a third soon). If you are all considering being a co-lead, I cannot recommend it enough – as there is so much built-in support for new leaders.

One of the roles of the leaders is to invite women into the circle. As a white LGBTQ+ identifying woman, I was especially mindful to invite a diverse circle of women. One of my IFB circles was composed of mostly BIPOC women leaders at large philanthropic institutions. They were moving significant amounts of other people’s money all day long, but didn’t feel much agency related to their own personal investments and family finances. IFB gave them the confidence they needed to consider their own money.

IFB provides the community, support and structure for welcoming women wherever they are at on their investment learning journey. If you are ready to step into your own money power, the IFB community is a great way to start – and co-leading a circle is an especially powerful invitation to bring along your friends and other women to stand in their money power too!

Wealth Podcast – Book Club featuring Janine Firpo

George Grombacher asked Invest for Better Co-founder and author, Janine Firpo on his LifeBlood podcast and spoke to her about her personal life, her work, and why she put pen to paper to write her book, “Activate Your Money”.