From Fairtrade Fortnight to National Ethical Investment Week

by Helen Wildsmith

Posted: 09 Nov 2010

Church congregations helped take Fairtrade products from specialist shops to supermarket shelves. Fairtrade Fortnight has become an important focus for raising awareness about the treatment ofthe farmers and workerswho help provide tea, coffee, bananas and other produce for us to enjoy. Ten years after the first Fairtrade Action Packs were distributed to Churches in the UK, over 70% of the UK population recognises the Fairtrade logo. Last year UK households spent £800m on Fairtrade products, benefiting people in nearly 60 developing countries. Even mainstream products like Kit Kats now bear the Fairtrade logo.

As well as spending our money in responsible ways, we can also invest it to support social justice and prevent environmental degradation. National Ethical Investment Week (NEIW) was launched in 2008 tohelp families, Churches and charities reflect their values in their investments. Climate change, human rights, poverty alleviation: these are all issues that are being addressed by green and ethical investments today. We hope that the new Action Guide for Churches, recently launched at St Mary-le-Bow in the heart of the City, will help congregations make money and make a difference in 2010 and beyond.

There are several green and ethical investment techniques that can help Christians align their investments with their values:

So how do you get started and what should you ask your fund manager? Individuals can turn to www.yourethicalmoney.org or find a specialist financial adviser through www.ethicalinvestment.org.uk. Smaller charities and churches can use special pooled funds, typically called Common Investment Funds (CIFs). Some have been developed for specific denominations or types of charities, others are more generic. If your own denomination does not have a bespoke CIF, see the guide to pooled funds at www.charitysri.org for the latest comparison tables. Larger church investors (including the denomination-specific CIFs) can join the Church Investors Group, which has nearly 40 members with over £12bn of assets.

Here are some questions to ask fund managers about the techniques I described above:

Getting started can seem daunting. It is far easier to buy a fair-trade banana than sort out your finances! Perhaps we should all resolve to take one clear step this National Ethical Investment Week. What will yours be?

CCLA is owned by its Church and charity clients, for whom it manages the CBF Church of England Funds and the COIF Charities Funds. CCLA's sponsorship has helped the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR) and the NEIW team distribute the Action Guide for Churches to over 10,000 Church contacts.

About this author

Helen Wildsmith is the Head of Ethical & Responsible Investment at CCLA Investment Management Limited.

Disclaimer

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of St Paul's Institute or St Paul's Cathedral.