It’s no great surprise that funders have taken up the fossil fuel divestment cause. For many, unloading these stocks and investing in positive social and environmental projects goes hand-in-hand with good grantmaking. As environmental funders, a number of Rachel’s Network members have made a commitment to divest from fossil fuels, both personally and through the foundations they direct. As we celebrate Global Divestment Day, they offer tips for those ready to move their money.
Each year for the past four years Rachel’s Network Member Annarie Lyles has been shifting 2% of her assets away from conventional stocks to businesses that align with her values. Here’s how she got started in impact investing, and how you can too.
Divest-Invest Philanthropy is a coalition of U.S. and global foundations pledged to divest from fossil fuel companies and invest a portion of their assets in the clean energy economy. Members of the Divest-Invest Philanthropy initiative are united around a shared conviction that investments must not undercut philanthropy’s mission to serve the public good. Rather, endowed assets should advance both financial and ethical goals.
Adelaide Park Gomer, President of the Park Foundation and chair of the board, realized early on that it was a contradiction to make grants to not-for-profit organizations that, for example, worked to abolish forest clear-cutting, prevent the use of genetically modified foods and reduce toxins in our waterways if the foundation at the same time was invested in corporations responsible for these egregious practices. Gomer decided to reinvest her personal portfolio in a way that would not harm people and the environment. Pleased with the performance of her new portfolio, she took on the challenge of convincing the foundation to follow suit.
Imagine an economy fueled daily by the sun’s energy. Jobs are opening up in sustainable companies that previously struggled to survive in a fossil fuel dependent world. Imagine that this robust, creative economy is no longer undermined by the political power of the fossil fuel industry, that energy markets are driven by consumers rather than by political manipulation and industry leverage. Progressive philanthropy can help turn this vision into reality. Doing so will require divesting from fossil fuels and investing in preferred alternatives: in infrastructure and local efficiencies; in clean energy and technology; and in sustainable agriculture and consumer products.