Non-profits test out new analytics software for social investing

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Interesting article on social investing–

The application, which is based on Salesforce, comes out this fall and is being tested by more than 50 non-profits and charities. It tracks what a more conventional investor might look for — revenue, return-on-equity and assets and liabilities. But it also follows less traditional metrics that a non-profit user can design, like school drop-out rates for an education program or mosquito bed-net sales. Acumen will offer it for free to non-profits and work out other financial arrangements with some of the larger foundations.

Link.

WSJ: Economic downturn hasn’t hurt interest in socially responsible investing

Investors, it seems, still have a proclivity toward good.

So notes Ingrid Saukaitis Dyott, co-manager of Neuberger Berman Socially Responsive Fund (symbol: NBSRX), who says that the economic downturn hasn’t hurt interest in socially responsible investing.

The Socially Responsive Fund is still seeing investor inflows despite the global economic downturn, Ms. Dyott says. Hard times can bring out the best in investors and companies, she said, noting that funds didn’t yield to pressure after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, when some called for screens blocking investment in weapons companies to be dropped.

Continue reading at WSJ

SRI Information and Links

I’ve gotten a lot of requests via email about where to get more information on socially responsible investing (SRI).  Sorry I don’t have enough time to respond to all of you but here are some links:


Center for Responsible Business– Moskowitz Research Program

Under the umbrella of the Center since 2005, Moskowitz Research Program examines the foundations and trends in the socially responsible investing (SRI) industry. The program places the Haas School at the forefront of SRI research and exposes a new generation of students to this critical research area.

HBS Baker Library Research Guide – Social Enterprise, Company Information, and Socially Conscious Investing

HBS Working Knowledge Paper: Social Return on Investment (SROI): Exploring Aspects of Value Creation

Stanford GSB Social Innovation Conferences: Video (scroll down): Value Creation: Moving Beyond Corporate Social Responsibility, Social Enterprise and Other Limiting Mindsets

Stanford Social Innovation Review: Category: Reponsible Investing

The Haas School of Business Starts A Socially Responsible Investment Fund

Quick plug for The Haas School of Business:

The Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley is starting an innovative new fund. Combining education with environmental consciousness, the school is launching a $250,000 student-managed investment fund with an emphasis on social responsibility.

Read more about it at Bloggingstocks.com.

Weekend Reading: Businesses Try to Make Money and Save the World

Here’s this weekend’s article which comes from the New York Times. I haven’t finished reading it but wanted to link to it since it’s pretty long. Here’s a great quote that gives you some flavor:

“You run into fundamental problems in trying to grow good because neither for-profit nor nonprofit is set up to do what new entrepreneurs and others are trying to do — namely, harness the power of private enterprise to create social benefit,” said Jay Coen Gilbert, co-founder of B Lab, a start-up organization based in Philadelphia that will develop what he calls “B corporations,” which engage in fourth-sector pursuits.

Socially Responsible Business Models

Another excellent piece for this weekend’s reading– Venturebeat, a blog about new technology ventures, publishes a piece on social capitalism, its two basic models, and why some companies are likely to succeed while others are not. The post is written by Jay Parkhill, who is an attorney that works in the technology sector. Keep in mind that most Venturebeat readers are technology investors so Jay is writing for that audience.

According to Jay, the two basic models are:

1. Companies that seek to do good by capitalizing on our existing shopping patterns. Example: Ethos water.

2. Businesses that encourage consumers to spend money in ways they would not otherwise in order to create a social and/or environmental impact. Example: Terrapass, Kiva.

Read the article for the complete analysis and the pros and cons of each model.

A U.N. initiative to promote business ethics could change the way B-schools operate

This week’s reading comes from Business Week and is about social responsibility— the article discusses a U.N. initiative that was launched in 2000, called UN Global Impact, to promote socially responsibly business practices in the world. The program looked at social responsibility from a financial perspective and adopted principles for responsible investment. It currently has more than 3,800 participants in 100 countries.

Recently, the Global Compact decided to expand its efforts to the academic community and is in the process of developing a set of Principles for Responsible Business Education. In January, Angel Cabrera, president of Arizona-based Thunderbird School of Global Management was named senior adviser to the Global Compact and is heading the task force developing the principles, which are to be presented at a meeting in Geneva in July.

Check out the Business Week article for the full Q&A with Angel Cabrera.

Beginner’s Guide To Socially Responsible Investing (SRI)

I finally saved up a enough money where investing has become relevant to me. I know a bit about how the markets work, but I don’t know too much about Socially Responsible Investing (SRI). I’ll need a crash course, and for that, there is no better resource than Wikipedia. According to Wikipedia, Socially Responsible Investing is:

an umbrella term for a philosophy of investing by both financial and social criteria. SRI investors seek to align their personal values and financial goals by choosing to invest in companies and organizations displaying values comparable to their own.

The entry is pretty thorough and my main take away is that there doesn’t seem to be a clear definition as to what SRI really means, except “no tobacco or alcohol products.”

While there is no one standard of criteria across Socially Responsible Investing, most SRI mutual funds, whether conservative or progressive, employ screens that exclude companies that manufacture tobacco or alcohol products.

I googled “socially responsible funds” and have a bunch of links to look at but there doesn’t seem to be a definitive guide. I guess I’ll have to navigate this maze on my own. I’ll report back my thoughts and findings. I’ll probably start with the following links:

Information on Funds
SocialFunds– “The largest personal finance site devoted to socially responsible investing”

Social Investment Forum– “a national nonprofit membership organization promoting the concept, practice and growth of socially responsible investing ”

Calvert Online– “socially responsible mutual funds”

KLD– “an independent investment research firm providing management tools to professionals integrating environmental, social and governance factors into their investment decisions.”

Yahoo Directory of Socially Responsible Mutual Funds

Pax World Funds– “Socially Responsible Mutual Funds, Ethical Investing, socially responsible investing”