Charity Bank survey finds that the public approves of ethical investment

Social lender says charities should seek investments that further their charitable objects

Geoff Burnand, Charity Bank’s chief investment officer
Geoff Burnand, Charity Bank’s chief investment officer

Two-thirds of the public believe it is "important" or "very important" that charities invest ethically, according to research from the social lender Charity Bank.

The bank polled 2,087 randomly selected adults in August this year. Of those, 67 per cent felt it was important or very important for charities to invest ethically, while 8 per cent said it was not important. The remainder said they were undecided or did not answer the question.

Geoff Burnand, the bank’s chief investment officer, said many charities were falling short of what the public wanted. "I think there’s a lot of desire among the public for what they want charities to do, but charities are falling short of that mark for whatever reason," he said.

Burnand said charities should move beyond "negative screening" ­– removing potentially unethical investments such as arms and tobacco from portfolios – and ask their asset managers to make investments that further their charitable objects.

"I’d like to see charities testing investment professionals much more," he said. "Ask where your money is going and if it could be put to work benefiting your cause."

A survey of members of the Charity Finance Directors’ Group in 2009 found that less than half had any type of ethical investment policy, and that most of those had only "negative screening" policies.

The survey found that many charities were reluctant to get involved in ethical investment because they felt it would limit their returns or breach Charity Commission guidelines on investment.

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