Thanks to Sr. Ruth Schaaf, O.P. who sent this headline our way: Nun Funds: The Original Impact Investors. The article recounts the origins of what we know today as impact investing. Reading the article, one can only come away impressed with these women who have invested and multiplied the talents (Matthew 25:14–30).
When we saw a recent article (Wisconsin groups to get $12M settlement for natural gas price fixing) from the La Crosse Tribune quoting Sr. Sue Ernster, FSPA, we wanted to bring it to the attention of our SGI members. Sr. Sue adds:
FSPA participated in the lawsuit of the manipulation of natural gas pricing by multiple utilities as another way of how we live out our social justice activities and our values. We see this as an effort to help those whose voices are not represented in this and other situations. We are utilizing the resources we have at our disposal to hold those accountable who were responsible for this price manipulation.
Our hope is that participating in litigation settlements such as these, as well as filing shareholder resolutions with companies, demonstrates that people are paying attention, asking questions and holding them accountable for their actions.
The Guardian, heralded for its independent and investigative journalism, ran a feature story on Sr. Nora Nash, O.S.F.: Sister act: how a Philadelphia nun faced up to Wall Street. Sr. Nora, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, engages in the work of corporate social responsibility through Philadelphia Area Coalition for Responsible Investment (PACRI) and ICCR.
The Guardian’s article is excellent in its outline of why and how a religious community engages in CSR work and offers considerable detail about the breadth of issues that Sr. Nora and her colleagues take on as well as significant detail about the shape of those efforts with Wells Fargo and Kroger. The Guardian interviewed not only Sr. Nora’s colleagues in CSR work but also got Kroger’s communication chief to speak about the experience of working with faith-based investors.
Please, visit the article. Perhaps you may even share it with others who may wish to learn more about socially responsible investment. Again, the article is found here: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/17/philadelphia-nuns-capitalism-activism
Last week, The New York Times published an article, Funds That Can Put Your Investments on a Low-Carbon Diet, that examines low-carbon investments. Like SGI in our resource page, the article highlights Fossil Free Funds, a resource from As You Sow. The article highlights some of the investment funds that provide low-carbon alternatives. It also includes a general assessment from an industry leader, Jon F. Hale of Morningstar, on the risks and performance of these funds.
As the NYT is behind a paywall after ten monthly free articles, here is a PDF version of the article without the photos or links: Funds That Can Put Your Investments on a Low-Carbon Diet – The New York Times.
The Board of the Seventh Generation Interfaith CRI gathered at my mother house, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, in La Crosse, Wisconsin last month to reflect on both the challenges and opportunities we face and to map a path forward. The day was facilitated by Marlene Weisenbeck, FSPA, with presentations by Frank Sherman, Executive Director of Seventh Generation Interfaith, and Seventh Generation Interfatih Board members Peg Groth and Mark Peters.
Sister Marlene’s opening reflection on the loss of our founder, Fr. Mike Crosby, O.F.M. Cap. was both moving and a spur to “ring the bells that can still be rung,” as Leonard Cohen urged us in his song Anthem. We spent time in breakout groups discussing the external and internal trends impacting our mission and vision. We agreed on a SWOT analysis (strengths, weakness, opportunity and threats), a vision of what success would look like, measurable goals and objectives to get us there, and an understanding of who would be responsible for achieving them. After this discussion, we discerned what would be a possible organizational model and funding strategy to facilitate it.
I found the workshop to be both challenging and energizing. Fr. Mike Crosby left us a 45-year legacy of shareholder engagement. Despite the headwinds of a challenging political environment and the changing demographics of our members, the group came away feeling that this ministry has been a catalyst for change and compelled to continue in Mike’s footsteps to bring good news to the poor and God’s creation. I look forward to working in coalition with other SGI members to ring the bells that can be rung.
Sr. Sue Ernster, F.S.P.A
By Sue Ernster, FSPA
On September 21, 2017, the Board of the Seventh Generation Interfaith CRI met in La Crosse, WI to engage in strategic planning for the future as well as acknowledging the changing path of the CRI with the death of Fr. Mike Crosby, O.F.M., Cap.
The day’s process was facilitated by Marlene Weisenbeck, FSPA, with presentations by Frank Sherman, Peg Groth, and Mark Peters. We spent time in groups discussing the external and internal trends impacting our vision and mission leading to a SWOT (strengths, weakness, opportunity and threats) analysis. The members then shared thoughts on objectives and strategies for the next 3-5 years and some specific actions to facilitate this.
After this discussion, we discerned what would be a possible organizational model which may facilitate our agreed upon mission and vision.
I found the workshop to be both challenging and energizing. Fr. Mike Crosby left us a 45 year legacy of shareholder engagement. Despite the headwinds of a challenging political environment and the changing demographics of our members, the group came away feeling that this ministry has been a catalyst for change and we must continue in Mike’s footsteps to bring good news to the poor and God’s creation.
Frank Sherman, Executive Director of Seventh Generation Interfaith
CNBC reviewed years of Morningstar data on the performance of socially responsible funds versus traditional funds and benchmarks and found that there is no significant performance drag. Similar research done in 2015 using meta-analysis covering 85 studies reached a similar conclusion: ESG funds result in neither a big cost, or financial benefit, to investors. However, they found that funds designed to exclude certain “sin” stocks or sectors, such as tobacco, alcohol or guns — don’t tend to measure up. “The ESG performance of companies appears to be something that can be used to generate value in a portfolio; traditional exclusion can be a drag,” said Jon Hale, head of sustainability research at Morningstar.
Todd Rosenbluth, director of mutual fund and ETF research at CFRA, commented that “getting comparable performance and feeling better about socially responsible investments is a win for investors.” This confirms the view that you can do good while doing well financially.
You can find tools and research on ESG funds on our Resource webpage.