Want to Make a Difference with Your Money? Consider a Social Finances Approach

Want to Make a Difference with Your Money? Consider a Social Finances Approach

Many of us like to feel as though we’re making a positive impact in the world. Could a social finances approach help you help others — while making money? 

For many people (myself included), making a difference is an important part of life. I hope to live with passion and purpose, and that means giving to the community. I volunteer, and I give to charity.

But what if I could structure my finances in a way that would help others? The social finances approach aims to help you make a difference while making money. My charitable giving is automated, and I give to causes I believe in, but my money isn’t being managed in a way that helps people every day.

If you’re looking for a way to give others a boost while making money yourself, here are three ways to get involved in social finances:

1. Superhero Checking from Radius Bank

One of the simplest ways to get involved with social finances is to let someone else do the heavy lifting. Radius Bank offers Superhero Checking, which is designed to benefit March of Dimes, providing a way for every baby to get the best possible start.

With Radius Superhero Checking, you get:

  • 50% APY on balances of $2,500 or more — and all interest you earn is matched by Radius and donated to the March of Dimes
  • 00% of your debit card purchases each month will be donated to March of Dimes
  • No monthly fee
  • No minimum balance
  • Free ATM use worldwide
  • Mobile wallet compatibility
  • Online and mobile banking with check deposit and P2P payments

You only need $100 to open an account online, and it can be done in as little as five minutes. I have a Tailored Checking account for my business, and I found the process of opening an account with Radius fairly straightforward.

2. Bank Locally

Consider banking locally with a community bank or a credit union. Many local financial institutions make it a point to donate to local charities. I know that one of the credit unions in my state actively looks for local projects to support, as does a local community bank.

One of the things I love about these institutions is that they make donations to folks who need help in the community. They might donate to the food basket or to the women’s shelter. Perhaps they help with emergency housing for families. You can actually see the results in the community, rather than trust that something will happen thousands of miles away.

In some cases, you might be able to direct a portion of a credit union’s funds toward a national or local charity. Depending on the makeup of the board, and whether you’re sitting on it, you could potentially influence the way some of the money is spent.

Look around for a local bank that offers you the chance to really do good in your community, and you might be surprised at what you find — and the difference you can make in your own corner of the world.

3. Invest in Social Impact Funds

You can also build your own portfolio by investing in social impact funds. These funds are designed to invest in a way that reflects your personal values. After all, that’s what the social finances movement is all about.

Swell is a company that offers impact investing choices, including funds that focus on different aspects of society, including:

  • Green technology
  • Clean water
  • Healthy living
  • Zero waste
  • Renewable energy
  • Disease eradication

As you can see, the idea behind social finances isn’t just about values investing, you can even help society work toward specific goals by investing in companies and funds that have a specific goal you believe in.

Should You Make Decisions Based on Social Finances Principles?

Whether or not you make decisions based on social finances principles comes down to you, and how you feel about what your money is doing. The funds at Swell have seen positive performance, but the S&P 500 still outperforms them.

So, the question becomes this: Do you think the returns from a social impact fund will be enough to help you accomplish your short-term and long-term goals? I don’t necessarily need a fund to beat the market — I just need it to provide solid returns over time so I can meet my goals.

You might also want to make choices based on where the money is going. Rather than worrying about social impact investing, you might like the idea of supporting a cause or charity through your banking habits. Maybe you give to March of Dimes anyway and would like to see the charity get a little extra boost. Something like Superhero Checking could allow you to keep your regular habits while providing a little extra something to a cause you believe.

I’m still trying to work out how I feel about a lot of the social finances choices out there.

Companies Adding Social Finances Initiatives

I was excited when the startup I worked at for two years offered a charity match. When I donated to charity, they matched my donation to that same charity, and they pledged 1% of their profits to charity, and I was on the committee that decided where that money should go. Dealing with companies that have taken the 1% pledge can be a good way to support socially conscious efforts.

Not too long ago, I was at a dinner sponsored by Fidelity. They gave each of the attendees a $100 gift card that they could use to donate to a charity of their choice. I’m still trying to decide where to put my gift, but I’d like to use it. Anytime someone else is giving me money to something positive for society, it’s a good thing.

So, no matter how you feel about your bank account or your investing choices, look around. Is there a way to do good? Is there a way for you to support local businesses in their efforts to make a positive difference in the community? Even if you aren’t into social finances, you can still make your little corner of the world a bit better.

What do you think about the social finances movement? Would you consider impact investing or opening a bank account to benefit a charity?

Written by Miranda Marquit

Miranda Marquit is a freelance writer and professional blogger, specializing in personal finance, small business, and investing topics. She writes for a number of financial web sites and blogs, and has been featured in numerous media. Read about life as a freelancer at MirandaMarquit.com and in her book Confessions of a Professional Blogger.

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