Transformational Investing

That’s transforming the world!

That was the exclamation from a participant at a meeting at Harner Chapel United Methodist Church in Morgantown where the church was considering moving funds to The Foundation for investment purposes.

Harner Chapel United Methodist Church

The meeting was called because the church leadership thought they could be better stewards of its resources by utilizing a custodial account at The Foundation. The pastor, Rev. Lynda Masters, and Church Treasurer, Karen Spengler, realized that reserve funds that were invested in a bank certificate of deposit were earning next to nothing. After a telephone call to The Foundation revealed that they could expect to earn a greater return and that there would be no maturity dates or transaction fees, they asked Jeff Taylor to make a presentation to the leadership of the church.

While all that was presented at the meeting made good business sense, the decision was made on the basis of good “heart sense.” The pastor and other leaders liked the idea that, along with its new investment manager, Wespath Investment Management, The Foundation engages in sustainable investing. We not only screen out investments in companies that derive a significant portion of their revenues from things that are contrary to our values—such as alcohol, tobacco, pornography, and private prisons—but also we intentionally invest in companies that have a proven track record in social issues, environmental care, and good governance. Moreover, we are able to engage corporate leadership to improve their practices. 

As an example, Jeff Taylor shared how some United Methodist groups, such as United Methodist Women and the General Board of Church and Society, had urged United Methodists to divest from a particular chocolate candy manufacturer because it purchased its raw cocoa from suppliers that were unfair to laborers. Rather than divesting, which would have only concentrated the corporate power into the hands of those who do not care about fair labor standards, like-minded United Methodist investors joined together to advocate for change. And it worked! The company agreed to purchase its cocoa from fair trade suppliers because they realized it made good business sense to do so.

That is transforming the world!