Circling Back: Invest for Better, One Year Later

Women nationwide are joining forces to become savvy impact investors: Learning together, moving money toward social change, and seizing opportunities to go beyond traditional philanthropy.

And you can join them.

Launched in January 2019, Invest for Better brings together a library of women’s personal impact investing stories and a broad list of resources, including simple action steps and tips for choosing a financial advisor, to help women begin their journey. The goal is to demystify the traditionally male-dominated field of investing and empower women to make decisions about their wealth that are aligned with their values.

“It’s going to behoove us all to get savvier so we understand what is really impactful and what isn’t,” said Ellen Remmer, senior partner at The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI), which oversees Invest for Better. “Women who are already active in philanthropy are the perfect audience to start taking up the mantle of impact investing.”

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Invest for Better: A Campaign to Help Women Invest for Social and Environmental Good

My journey to impact investing was a long and winding road. Way too long and winding! It wasn’t from lack of interest or effort. But because I had no support – and in some cases deep resistance – from my financial advisors, family, and peers, it took A LOT of effort, and ultimately, acts of defiance to make it happen.

While the environment for impact investing has improved quite a bit since those days, I still hear some version of this story from women every week: yes, they are interested in values-aligned investing, and yes, they are having trouble translating that interest into action because (1) they don’t have support, (2) they don’t know how to get started, and/or (3) they don’t have the time.

For women in particular, the gap between aspiration and action is particularly large. Research shows that women consistently express more interest in values-aligned investing than men. However, their actions do not reflect that interest, which is likely amplified by the fact that women tend to spend less time (and thus have less knowledge) on investing than men in our time-starved world.

Several years ago, a group of advocates and investors collaborated to understand this disconnect and figure out how to surmount it. Thus, Invest for Better was launched in January 2019 as a campaign to revolutionize the impact investing ecosystem by helping women demystify impact investing, take control of their capital, and mobilize their money for good. The campaign includes (1) a visibility/activation campaign which profiles a wide range of women investors, provides educational resources, and invites women to pledge to take small or large action steps; and (2) resources and support for those who launch Invest for Better Circles: small peer-led groups that help women engage in deep learning, and hold each other accountable for moving money into impact.

Carolyn Fine Friedman, a Rachel’s Network member, is part of the Boston Invest for Better Circle. Carolyn’s family office had begun to work with her on identifying impact investing opportunities, and Carolyn wanted to become a more confident investor as well as identify new pipelines for impact investments. “The group gave me a circle of peers outside of my family,” said Carolyn. “It’s been a great way to both have fun learning about impact investing and to discover new investment opportunities. I look forward to continuing to exchange ideas and learning from the group.”

Another member of the Boston group joined when she and her husband were in the midst of selecting investment advisors for their newly liquid wealth and she, while an experienced philanthropist, was a newbie to the world of investing: “After many years of being told what I should do with my assets, and how I should do it, I now realize that I can be in the driver’s seat. A new world of thrilling possibility has opened up to me. I realize I can marry my deep love of nonprofits with profitable companies that are doing a myriad of things to better the world in meaningful and sustainable ways,” she shared about the group. It was through the Invest for Better Circle that she was introduced – by another participant – to an intriguing new health venture start-up which she subsequently invested in. In fact over 60% of the first year’s participants moved their first or additional money into impact and values-aligned investing.

When it comes to my own experience, I honestly wasn’t sure if the circle would help me move any more money around. My trust was almost fully invested for impact already. The family foundation had finally moved our public equity portfolio to an ESG manager, and began looking at private equity and VC funds in alignment with our interests in gender equality and environmental sustainability. But the circle helped me take the initiative to move some of my donor advised fund principle into a number of highly mission-focused investments in my community as well as in the Prime Impact Fund, a vehicle to invest in companies innovating break-through solutions to climate change. I also called my retirement administrator and made sure they added more balanced fund investment options. And, I renewed my debates with my husband about why this approach to investing made sense for all our portfolio!

New circles are starting up all over the country now that the Invest for Better Circle Toolkit has launched. Circles don’t always use the brand name Invest for Better, and their models and participant demographics are variable, but having a community of peers to learn with and hold each other accountable is a model that works for many women, as evidenced by the long term success of Rachel’s Network!

We invite you to check out Invest for Better and see if you are ready to take the first steps or move deeper into the practice of using all your financial capital in service of the values and goals you hold most dearly. While philanthropy plays an essential role in our civic society – be that through organizing and advocacy, education and service, research and innovation – we also know that the sustainability of new solutions usually requires the markets to jump on board. Be part of the movement and take action!

The Toolkit is free for anyone to access, compliments of a title sponsorship by Bank of America and distribution sponsorships by Wetherby Asset Management and Athena Capital Advisors. This article first appeared on the Rachel’s Network Blog.

Invest For Better: How A New Campaign Is Engaging Women

Ellen Remmer is on a new philanthropic adventure and she’s hoping other women will join her.

Remmer, a longtime leader in donor education and advising at The Philanthropic Initiative, recently launched a multi-year campaign to help women recognize they have more power at their fingertips to effect social change. It’s called Invest for Better.

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Portsmouth Event Focuses on ’System Change’ Through Investment

The only way to have a positive impact on issues such as gender inequality, socioeconomic disparity, organic agriculture and the environment is through the power of money.

That was the consensus of a panel of women investors at the Northern New England Women’s Investor Network Impact Investing event, held Wednesday in Portsmouth.

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Millennial Money Podcast: How Can Women Tackle Impact Investing with Confidence?

By 2020 American women will control $22 trillion in capital, and impact investing is expected to reach $440 billion, the real question is How Can Women Tackle Impact Investing with Confidence?

Here We Go

We began with a simple question

Could an intentional and strategic focus on women be pivotal to accelerating the growth of the impact investing ecosystem and help to ensure that it is inclusive and transformational? The answer, we believe, is yes. Research shows that women are overwhelmingly interested in investing according to their values, yet only 40% of women have integrated sustainability into even a portion of their investments and many fewer have made impact investments.  The time to change that is now. Women are controlling more and more of the world’s wealth. They are speaking up and strengthening their impact on issues that matter. Women can further amplify this collective voice, and find personal fulfillment and agency, through purposeful investing. In so doing, they will lead the way in developing the field at large.

So what is Invest for Better?

In the 2018 Road Map for the Future of Impact Investing, the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) called for the field to “launch a broad, global campaign to reshape mindsets about the role of capital in society.” Invest for Better responds to that call for action. We aim to make it easier for women to do what they want to do—invest with purpose—by addressing their need for information, inspiration, community, and support. Our national visibility and activation campaign shares moving stories of all kinds of women impact investors, curates some of the best learning resources, connects women to like-minded communities, and invites them to take a range of simple action steps. We have launched the first Invest for Better Circles—small, peer-to-peer learning and activation groups—and will provide a toolkit and support to others who want to start circles around the country. Please have a look around the site to learn more.

Who are we?

The Invest for Better campaign was created through the collaborative efforts of dozens of women investors, donors, and field leaders. I became a passionate champion for helping women activate their capital for better after my own personal journey along that path. As a result, I feel connected to my assets in a very personal and powerful way. It’s not just about what they are doing for me, but how they are shaping the world I want to live in and leave for my children.

We are a non-profit, non-transactional, open-source initiative, housed at The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI), and overseen by a phenomenal Steering Committee.  We do this because we are passionate about the impact investing movement’s potential to produce transformational change in our society and believe that women can and should lead the way.

Join us! 

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