Social Investment Policies for Churches
Ways that church leaders can research the backgrounds of funds and stocks

Church leaders find themselves in charge of endowments, capital accounts, and, in some congregations, pension funds. They may have to make big decisions about investment policy or small ones (relatively speaking) about which funds to include in a 403(b) plan.

But how can leaders discern what companies should be avoided, based on social or moral grounds, and also know the right investment funds to purchase? Is the hot issue alcohol, or is it the treatment of workers in developing countries? Or both?

The perfect investment (like the perfect job, perfect boyfriend, and perfect political candidate) doesn't exist, so church leaders need to set priorities for the most important issues for the funds they manage. They need to put these priorities into the context of risk, return, and total cost when talking to the staff and church board.

It's hard to make specific recommendations for every investor who cares about social issues, because different investors care about different things. As with any discussion of investments, the primary consideration is risk and return, but return does not have to be sacrificed to accommodate moral concerns.

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Posted: October 18, 2010
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