Responsible Investment Sites
Full spectrum. Social
Funds.com offers extensive analysis of mutual funds that have a
social agenda. The listed funds’ social objectives range from
conservative to liberal. Some shun manufacturers of abortion-related
products. Others focus on the environment and animal testing.
SocialFunds.com lists both the funds’ goals and their financial
Mostly liberal. The Social
Investment Forum site is more comprehensive, identifying
socially responsible banks and financial planners as well as mutual
funds. Its mutual fund analysis is more cumbersome, with separate
charts for funds’ social concerns and their monetary
returns. The site does not list anti-abortion funds; its focus is
mostly on liberal social issues.
Christian focus. For conservative Christians, the best
site for selecting “values-based investments” is CrossWalk,
which provides a rigorous analysis (but no chart) of whether
hundreds of mutual funds and variable annuities invest in
“companies that profit from pornography, abortion, anti-family
entertainment” or “actively promote” gay lifestyles.
Hodge-podge. Good Money
is packed with information about many varieties of socially aware
players on the financial scene, but the site is a hodge-podge.
Socially responsible companies. Few Web sites describe
both companies’ effect on society and their financial performance.
The following sites are no exception -- they focus more on
individual companies’ social practices than on their finances.
Most select companies by applying a relatively liberal viewpoint,
focusing on the environment, workplace issues, human rights and
avoidance of tobacco, alcohol, gambling and nuclear power. Investors
choosing from any of these lists will have difficulties maintaining
a well-diversified portfolio.
In presenting a
list compiled for Green Money Journal, Good Money makes sure
that investors know they are not getting "a list of companies
with unblemished social records. There is no such thing as sainthood
in the corporate world. The purpose of this directory is to identify
Web sites maintained by or featuring publicly-owned companies that
are followed by some investors, stock analysts, and portfolio
managers who specialize in Socially Responsible Investing (SRI). It
is also designed to illustrate the many different types of social
issues that are of interest to those in the SRI movement."
Work + Family Connection
Inc. compiles a list of "model companies" with
progressive workplace policies. It was formerly provided free
online, but no more. Now it's included in the group's "Special
Report on Best Practices," a booklet that can be downloaded
from the group’s home page for $35.
Investment Newsdeclares that most lists of socially
responsible companies are inadequate. As an alternative, it offers a
few dozen publicly traded companies as its answer to the question,
"Where would the animals want you to invest?" Some
companies it labels "speculative," "risky
short-term" or "relatively safe long-term"
investments. Many are unlabeled, except for their animal-rights
Other lists of individual companies are maintained by the two
prominent socially responsible mutual funds listed below.
Socially responsible mutual funds. Investing in mutual
funds can help provide the risk-lowering diversification that's hard
to achieve when investing in individual companies.
Among the most prominent are those from Citizens
Funds (with a list of 300 selected companies) and Domini
Social Investments (with a list of 400).
Commentary and advice. The article "Stocks
That Reflect Your Conscience" in the July 1999 edition of
Kiplingers Personal Finance magazine aptly describes the problems of
finding a mutual fund that matches your personal description of
what's "socially responsible." It also proposes some
worthy companies of its own (without discussing how to avoid the
problem of lack of diversification that can be created by investing
in them). Though useful, the article does contain the amazing line,
"If you don't mind alcohol, weapons or animal testing, you may
be interested in some of these stocks."