The United Methodist Foundation of West Virginia, Inc. has long had a policy of “socially responsible investing.” Until recently, this has meant that there are certain enterprises, such as gambling, tobacco, pornography, etc.—the so-called “sin stocks”—that we screen out of our portfolio. In recent years, socially responsible investing has taken on a broader meaning. It now includes not only negative screening, but also positive actions. With the broader definition, “socially responsible investing” has become known as “sustainable investing.” Through our partnership with Wespath Investment Management, we are pleased to participate in sustainable investing in the following ways:
Advocacy: We make investments in companies that have a good track record in terms of how they treat the environment, the social positions they take, and good governance.
Corporate Engagement: Along with other United Methodist investors, we can use our collective strength to engage corporate leadership to actually change how they act. One real-life example is how United Methodist investors and others have been successful in persuading a large chocolate manufacturer to agree to purchase 100% free-trade cocoa by the year 2020. This kind of involvement in transforming the world seems to be the very kind of activity John Wesley would encourage.
Positive Social Purpose Lending Program: We have part of our funds invested in a positive social purpose lending program that provides funds for the construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing that improves the quality of life for thousands of poor people. This is accomplished by acquiring loans from nonprofit corporations. Investments in multifamily, senior and special-needs housing not only help people who need it, but also achieve competitive rates of return.