Monday, November 14, 2005

Invest locally.

One of the best ways to invest responsibly is to invest locally, in communities that are financially underserved. "Community investing is capital from investors that is directed to communities underserved by traditional financial services. It provides access to credit, equity, capital, and basic banking products that these communities would otherwise not have. In the U.S. and around the world, community investing makes it possible for local organizations to provide financial services to low-income individuals, and to supply capital for small businesses and vital community services, such as child care, affordable housing, and healthcare."

The Community Investing Center has numerous resources you can use to be part of this "strategy that remedies the economic disparity in domestic and international communities by providing lower-income people access to capital, credit, and training:"

* Use financial professionals that direct at least 1% of their managed funds to community investing.

* Search the community investment database to find investment tools that allow your money to work for you and for others.

* Select investment products that help restore economic justice.

* Consider international community investment programs.

* Note the impact of community investing. Through the 1% in the community campaign over $5 billion has been put into community investing.

* Also consider using credit unions, eating local foods, financing microloans and other ways you can act locally.

Invest your money so that it grows and works not just for you, but also for your community.

"Emancipation from the bondage of the soil is no freedom for the tree." -Rabindranath Tagore, philosopher, author, songwriter, painter, educator, composer, Nobel laureate (1861-1941)


Paul said...

Despite paying for what I use (which includes donations where services are not charged for), I generally disagree with local giving for those of us living in rich countries.

Even the poorest person in my city is far richer than our brothers and sisters in sub-Saharan Africa. Yes, there are a great many needs in this world, but I have the confidence that the needy people near me have a far greater chance of finding the support they need from the government and the people around them.

Most people are ad-hoc givers: they dont give until asked. Planned givers, however, can effect a greater improvement in the world by looking farther afield and supporting those who dont have even the means to ask a Westerner for help.

Therefore, I personally give 4% of my income locally (to pay for the donation-dependent services that I use), and 6% to the poorest countries of the world, through organisations carefully selected for their reach and efficiency. I only give $10-$15 a month to those who ask me directly.

Karama said...

Hi Paul,

In this post, I'm talking more about community investing rather than local giving. One of the main reasons investing is so important is that can create sustainable change. (Giving can too, e.g. Heifer International). People who live in financially underserved communities (and others) may be particularly committed to investing in their communities and creating lasting change. When that change happens, we all benefit.

In addition, community investing can help correct the problems of economic injustice based on classism, sexism, ethnic prejudice and other forms of discrimination. These problems are prevalent and caustic in "rich" countries and while we work towards lasting change in economically poor countries, we can also improve society in economically rich countries. Local economic disparities must be corrected in the interest of peace and justice. One need only read the recent news to see what happens when these problems are not addressed. There are times when it makes sense to think globally and act locally.

Also, I've been to sub-Saharan African, and it is important to remember that not all people there are poor. Many, many are, but not all. Likewise, I witness vast economic disparities in the US. As you mention, "there are a great many needs" all over this world. We just have to choose a place to start.

In So what can I do, I strive to present numerous options for creating positive social change. No one has enough time, money, talent, physical, psychological or emotional strength to carry out every suggestion. But I am confident that we all can do something. Those who, for whatever reason, are uncomfortable or unable to give internationally, may well be willing and able to participate in community investing. Once we claim agency and see the benefit of the work we are doing (even the very small steps) we will be empowered to do more.

Thanks for sharing your giving strategy, Paul. It's nice to see how one person commits himself to the work at hand, and I appreciate the reminder about the large difference planned giving can make.

Thanks also for reading So what can I do. I hope you'll stop by again soon.

Karama said...

Also consider the RSF Community Investment Fund.

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Karama said...

MFN: Thanks for stopping by. Please come again soon, and spread the word.

All: Also consider supporting your community foundation.