The WOKE Investor

You are likely familiar with the terms “impact investing,” “cause based investing,” “social impact investing,” “socially responsible investing,” and “sustainability investing.” In fact, one of these terms serves as the backbone of the Stewardship Foundation. Nowadays, there’s a new kid on the block — the woke investor.

The Woke investor likes ESG funds for an investment strategy that aligns with personal values, whether those be going green, saving the planet, or protesting for BLM. They want to feel good about improving their financial well-being. 

Woke investors are generally millennials who want their money to go towards making a difference in society and in the world (though, when asked how their money would actually support a good cause, most aren’t sure). 

The Stewardship Foundation is similar in its pursuit of transformational investing, though where we invest may very well be different. We were founded on a set of core beliefs that allow our clients to trust that the decisions we make to grow and protect their wealth are made as though Christ was looking over our shoulder. 

Some investment companies appear to be exchanging the goal of maximizing shareholder value for maximizing societal value, a kind of social justice (source: The Federalist). Does this mean that SF has been way ahead of the curve? Perhaps. Since 2009, we have served only clients who share our Credo.

We faithfully serve clients who also believe…

  • in transformational giving.
  • that giving is a collaborative act between the donor, the charity, and their God.
  • that transformational giving is not about the bottom line, but about the heart.
  • that transformational giving creates partnerships that impact entire communities.
  • in the sanctity of human life, marriage and sexual morality, and religious freedom and the rights of conscience.
  • that it is our responsibility to care for the poor, the sick and the disadvantaged, and to use our talents for the betterment of mankind through education, opportunity and freedom.

Our clients are not WOKE investors. They were never asleep.

The Apple Falls Not Far From the Morality Tree

Almost a year ago, Gallup conducted a survey on the moral value of Americans. More than three in four Americans reported morals in the U.S. as getting worse. Surprisingly, there was little difference in the opinions of Democrats and Republicans — both were equally negative.

Moral values having anything to do with politics is alarming. Moral values are knowing the difference between right and wrong and having a willingness to do the right thing, even if it is hard or dangerous.  Americans entered WWII because they believed that it was  ethically the right thing to do, even though it was dangerous for the individuals who served and for the country as a whole. Americans valued democracy and freedom and were willing to fight for it.

The Ten Commandments define for believers what is right or wrong. Values are defined as those things that are important to an individual or group. Core values may include integrity, professionalism, caring, teamwork, and stewardship when applied to an organization’s vision. The aforementioned core values are part and parcel of the Stewardship Foundation, and form the basis for our ethics.

When we perform ethically, we behave in a manner that is consistent with what we believe to be right or moral. We specifically apply these ethics to our own core belief that financial riches are to be shared, and that faithfulness to God commands that we be good stewards of the riches that we share.

Our Credo is on our website, but those who visit our blog more frequently than our website, they bear repeating:

  • We believe in transformational giving.
  • We believe that giving is a collaborative act between the donor, the charity, and their God
  • We believe that transformational giving is not about the bottom line, but about the heart.
  • We believe that transformational giving creates partnerships that impact entire communities.
  • We believe in the sanctity of human life, marriage and sexual morality, and religious freedom and the rights of conscience.
  • We believe that it is our responsibility to care for the poor, the sick and the disadvantaged, and to use our talents for the betterment of mankind through education, opportunity and freedom.

We also believe that those who seek to invest their money through an organization like ours do so because of shared moral values, and whether our clients are Democrats or Republicans, both do so because of equally positive motives. We have choices where and how we invest. What’s more important—social and moral responsibility, or profitability? We believe that both are equally important and that’s why we work hard everyday to manage funds that do both.

Case for Philanthroinvesting

touchdownIt’s football season. The season when, after investing over two hours in front of the TV, we go crazy when one team makes some remarkable adjustment to its game plan and pulls out a win in the last minutes of the 4th quarter. Depending on whether our favored team won or lost, we collectively scratch our heads and wonder why the team waited to the last minute to make a difference!

Nonprofit financial managers also scratch their heads wondering why so many donors wait to the last minute, aka, end of tax year, to write that check.

If you’ve seen our website’s “If you believe in…” slideshow, you may have noticed that the final slide is labeled “…transformational giving”. The image is of a young woman on the edge of a lake, disturbing the water just enough to create outward ripples. It is a symbol for transformational giving – the kind of giving that not only transforms the giver in a spiritual way, but that also transforms the nonprofit receiving the gift because the gift itself is large enough or designed well enough to grow and sustain the charity’s mission over time.

An excellent example of transformational giving comes from Paul T. Penley, the director of research for philanthropic advisory firm Excellence in Giving. Penley calls it “philanthroinvestments – real opportunities for philanthropists to realize returns and then relinquish the benefits of those returns to charitable organizations they trust.”

Penley discusses the concept in the article Smart Gifts Keep on Giving – how a philanthropic investment of $600,000 is on track to more than quadruple, generating $2.5 million revenue from the original gift.

This investment is neither an impact investment (a socially responsible form of investing that creates measurable social or environmental impact alongside a financial return for the investor) because the financial returns do not come back to the investor; nor is it a normal grant or annual cash donation needed every year to run the same programs. The grant is, however, one that invests in a revenue-generating, job-creating project so that the organization doesn’t need additional grants to run its programs.

This model will not work for all charities (for example, it won’t work for disaster relief), but for most, it enables a gift to keep on giving and attracts high net worth charitable investors.

If this type of long term thinking fascinates you, inspires you, challenges you… or if you are a major gift or development officer, or you know someone who is, we’d like to lead the conversation about philanthroinvesting.