As individuals and families, we can harness the power of money to become game changers in our community by being thoughtful and intentional about our behavior. Every dollar we spend, save, or
invest has an impact but it’s up to us to decide what that impact will be.
Let’s first look at the savings and investments. There are 3 pillars of Sustain- able, Responsible,
Impact Investing (SRI). While the first 2 pillars – Screening and Shareowner Engagement
understandably receive plenty of attention, the third pillar, Community Investing, is every bit
as important. Investment screening based on environmental, social or governance (ESG) preferences, along with shareholder engagement with corporations, are critical tools for investors but investing in our local communities has the most tangible and immediate positive social impact. Our purchasing habits as consumers, along with our choices of saving and
investment vehicles can truly make or break a community.
Thankfully, we have some great financial institutions that support our lo- cal economy. As
highlighted in this issue, the Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region (MyCommunityLoanFund.org) is a powerful way to channel capital to underserved groups in this area. Socially concerned investors lend (“invest”) capital, which in turn is loaned to underserved segments of the community. These loans are complete gamechangers for women and minority-owned businesses, affordable housing initiatives, and nonprofits who provide critical community services.
Another worthy organization that directs capital to local Community Development Financial
Institutions (CDFIs) and other mission-driven community-based groups is Calvert Impact Capital.
Their Community Investment Notes offer options to target recipient organizations by geographic
location, domestically or around the world, or by theme (e.g. Education, Health, Housing, Aging, Renewable Energy, Women Investing in Women, Sustainable Agriculture). A fact sheet can be found at CalvertImpactCapital.org/storage/documents/cinote-fact-sheet.pdf.
Green America’s Community Investing Guide is a valuable resource and provides a helpful primer on
community investing in general, along with a list of high impact, local investing options. You can
obtain a free PDF of this guide at GreenAmerica.org/community-investing-guide.
Of course, investors should do their home- work to make sure that any vehicle is appropriate for
their objectives, risk tolerance, time horizon and tax situation. This is especially important
since many community investment vehicles are not insured so there’s no “safety net”.
In addition to saving and investing locally, patronizing local businesses is another critical
building block of a more sustainable economic future and improved quality of life.
A vibrant, locally owned, independent business community enhances the social fairness, community
spirit, financial vitality, and environmental health of our region. This is
commerce based on connection and relation- ships, not on extraction of wealth and resources in a
cold, fast transaction-based system in which it’s rare for consumers to know the producers of the
goods they’re buying. Local businesses add a “sense of place” and heart to the neighbor- hoods
where they are located and often offer distinctive goods and personalized services.
They genuinely care about our environment, quality of life, and neighborhoods because they and
their families are part of the same community. They re-energize areas that may otherwise become
blighted, and they purchase products from other local organizations, thereby multi- plying the
impact of our dollars on the Capital Region’s economy.
Please also remember the importance of supporting our local farmers. We are fortunate to have
excellent Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) options, and several amazing farmer’s markets.
Buying as much of our food as possible locally is one of the most effective ways to foster a
vibrant and resilient local economy. Fresher, safer, more nutritious and energy efficient, locally sourced food represents a win-win for the environment and our communities.
We’re proud to help our clients harness their collective saving, investing, and buying power to be
gamechangers in the Capital Region and beyond. We’re happy to be a resource as we all travel this path together.