Your vote matters. Your political donations matter, too.
As investors, we understand the importance of money in our personal finances, but what about in our country’s electoral politics? If you don’t know much about campaign finance, you’re not alone. When I was asked to write this article, I quickly realized there was a lot for me to learn — campaign finance terminology, important court cases, and key legislation.
The ABC’s of Campaign Finance
Even those of us well acquainted with financial terminology may come across a few unfamiliar terms when trying to understand campaign finances. So, here are some common terms to get us started.
A Campaign Committee is a group organized by a candidate running for office to accept donations and spend that money on staff, ads, and any other political efforts.
Political Action Committees, commonly referred to as PACs, are outside groups seeking to influence an election. Most PACs represent industry, business, labor or ideological interests. PACs are regulated by the federal government and have constraints on their expenditures and budgets. They can give up to $5,000 to a candidate committee per election (primary, general or special), up to $15,000 annually to any national party committee, and up to $5,000 annually to any other PAC. An individual can donate up to $5,000 to a PAC per calendar year.
The Citizens United Decision refers to a landmark supreme court case that expanded corporations’ and outside groups’ ability to donate to contribute to campaigns. For a more in-depth explanation, check out this article from the Brennan Center for Justice.
Dark money is the name given to political spending meant to influence voters from nonprofits who are not legally required to reveal their donors.
The Federal Election Campaign Act is the legislation that regulates campaign finance. In 1974, the act established the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which is the independent regulatory agency that administers and enforces federal campaign finance law.
So, what is the true power of our dollar when it comes to contributing? And how can we make our contributions more effective?
According to some experts, the best move for individuals is to support early and support local.
Many people have already decided who to vote for by the time they register to vote. Near the end of a campaign, there are fewer minds to change. Donating early may have a stronger impact on swaying undecided voters. Research suggests that supporting candidates early in the primary can make a big impact on getting a candidate into the general election.
Similarly, supporting more local candidates is one way to increase the efficacy of your dollar. Most local elections don’t attract national attention or dollars. Small races need small donors.
As of the writing of this blog, the 2020 presidential election is projected to cost $11 billion. In contrast, the 2017 Minneapolis mayor election cost about $1.3 million. If you don’t have the ability to pledge $18 million to the DNC like Mike Bloomberg, consider supporting a local race.
And, don’t let your personal investments work against your political ones! Ensure you’re investing with the same ethics you’re voting with. Learn more about your impact today.
Want to learn more about how to vote with your wallet? Check out How to Vote with Your Wallet, How to Vote with Your Wallet for the Environment, and How to Vote with Your Wallet for Peace. Keep reading to learn more about investing in human rights and diversity.
October is an important month — and not just because of Halloween on the 31st. October is also Disability Employment Awareness Month and LGBT+ History Month. It’s a time of year for us to reflect on diversity and inclusion.
As ethical investors, we value inclusion and human rights. But, how can we show our support financially? Voting with our wallets for human rights and diversity is a critical first step towards supporting historically-oppressed groups.
Support Diverse Small Businesses
Show your support for disabled and LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs by shopping from their stores. With the holiday season quickly approaching, you can use your financial vote for inclusion when picking out presents for your loved ones this year. Get started by considering what kind of item you’re looking for and researching shops to support.
Got a four-legged friend in need of treats? Head to Gracie’s Doggie Delights. Are you looking for jewelry? Check out Automic Gold. In search of a new outfit? Shop designs from Rebirth Garments. In need of something else? Stop by one of the many lists of inclusive brands to shop, like 15 Black LGBTQ Small Businesses To Support Right Now or 15 Disability-Owned Businesses to Support During COVID-19.
In addition, you can keep a running list of shops you would like to support in the future. My notes app is full of creators I enjoy and links to their work. This way, I have their shop information when I can afford to support them.
Donate Directly to People in Need
Mutual aid is the radical idea of giving to your community in solidarity rather than as charity. The need for mutual aid has increased recently as many communities are fighting against the effects of systemic racism and the COVID-19 pandemic. Support human rights by supporting your neighbors.
Social media and crowdfunding websites have made it easier for people to communicate their needs directly. Activists such as model Aaron Philip have used their platforms to uplift the needs of community members. Facebook communities like South Minneapolis Mutual Aid are also great resources.
Following a few groups who promote mutual aid is a good way to keep yourself up-to-date on your community’s needs. When you have some extra money or other resources to spare, considering giving to a neighbor in need.
If you’re uncomfortable with the concept of mutual aid or donating directly to someone in need, ask yourself why. Mutual aid is meant to promote community and support your neighbors. Personally, I find the best way to show my support is through a mix of giving to mutual aid and local charities.
If you’re not donating directly to someone in need, do a little research on the place you’re donating to. A quick google search should give you some insight into the charity. For some more tips, check out this article.
Invest in What Matters
Finally, make sure your investments aren’t working against all your endeavors for human rights and diversity. Switching to socially responsible investing can help ensure that your finances are working towards a better future.
Be conscious of your investments. Your invested dollars go towards innovation, technology, and more. Make sure they’re working with your values. Check out our Human Rights and Diversity portfolio and learn more at InvestedInterests.com.
What does choosing a political candidate to vote for have in common with choosing an investment portfolio? If you’re anything like us – A LOT! Accountability is a huge component of how we curate our portfolios and our ballots.
Accountability is holding institutions and individuals to a standard that aligns with one’s values and morals. In our daily lives, it might look like taking responsibility for our actions or acknowledging our mistakes while striving to do better.
As ethical investors, we also bring accountability to finance. When we choose companies to include in our portfolios, we do so very consciously. We consider their intentions and impacts, what they hope to do and how they do it.
We carry that same energy into the polls.
Holding public officials accountable is a key aspect of a healthy democracy. We need room to criticize politicians (even those we like!) when they go against our values. Doing so helps shape our political future, especially surrounding key issues like sustainability.
Accountability and criticism can get a bad reputation. But, they are not inherently negative.
Criticism and accountability are tools to aid us in developing a better future. By understanding where we, as a country, have gone wrong, we can strive for new solutions to do better. In the words of author and activist James Baldwin, “I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”
Sometimes, we’re asked to save our criticism for a different time, that now is not the right moment. But, our values are not fleeting. Our ethics should not be paused to make situations more comfortable for the majority.
I often find that the times when I’m told my criticism is not appropriate are the times when it is most necessary. Holding ourselves, our politicians, and our institutions to a higher standard is not disrespectful. Demanding more from our government to protect the rights of historically oppressed people is always appropriate.
So, what can we do?
We should carefully analyze the Biden Climate Plan to understand if it is enough to promote sustainability in our country. We should demand more from our government to tackle climate change and generate jobs that protect the environment. We should recognize the impact of RBG’s legacy on Indigenous people. Doing so does not make us disrespect of our politicians’ accomplishments, but rather, to echo Baldwin, showcases our love for the country and helps us imagine a better future for all people.
With the current elections looming, now is the perfect time to start engaging in a critical analysis of politicians, especially candidates in local elections. For Minnesotans, our ballots will feature races for U.S. President, U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, State Senator, State Representative, and Judicial seats. Getting to know candidates through resources such as Ballotpedia or MyBallotMN can help you make informed decisions on election day.
In other words, it is important to bring accountability into every space in our lives, especially our politics and our finances. These are two key areas where we can use our democratic and fiscal votes to shape the world around us for the better. As ethical investors, we can do this in many ways. Invest in social justice. Register to vote. Donate to campaigns that align with your values — especially close, local races. Engage in political conversations with friends and family, even when it is uncomfortable. To truly put our money where our mouth is, we must take every opportunity to fight for human rights, especially at home.
If you have been keeping up with our weekly post in Invested Interests social media accounts, you would have noticed us posting weekly during Hispanic Heritage Month. Throughout the month, we focused each week on a new topic related to Hispanic culture. From Hispanic recipes to well-known Hispanic artists, all to give our audience a better understanding of the Hispanic culture and the importance of celebrating Hispanic heritage month.
Build your Cultural Intelligence
While the Hispanic heritage month is coming to an end on October 15, I don’t want everything that you have learned throughout these various weeks to come to a halt. Instead, I encourage every one of you currently reading this blog to continue learning about other cultures, including the Hispanic culture. Being culturally intelligent is an essential skill to have as it could help you build meaningful relationships with people from different cultures. You start by building meaningful relationships when you actively learn about individuals’ customs, cultures, and views with an open-mind free from ethnocentrism (applying one’s culture or ethnicity as a frame of reference to judge other cultures). By not assuming or clouding your mind with your biases of certain cultures.
Cultural Diversity in the Workplace
Throughout the weeks, we celebrate the Hispanic culture, however, there are still things in this world that need to change. For starters, let’s start with cultural diversity in the workplace. Cultural diversity in the workplace has been shown to improve workplaces by increasing employees’ productivity in the workplace. Having a diverse workplace allows companies to get a broader perspective of ideas or processes. People from different cultures have different past experiences that can be beneficial by providing an overarching knowledge of possible solutions. Laboratory studies have found that diversity in the workplace has shown a positive correlation with diverse groups with their effectiveness. According to author Mazur, creativity thrives on diversity. Meaning, multicultural organizations are known to be better at problem-solving, possess a better ability to extract expanded meanings, and are more likely to display multiple perspectives and interpretation when dealing with complex issues. 35% more likely to perform at a higher level. Overall, increasing the groups’ functionality and ability to problem solve by looking at a problem with different angle points.
Our current society is filled with many individuals from various walks of life, just encompassing any cultural background you can imagine. However, this is not the circumstances in the modern age business workplace. Cultural diversity and inclusion in this day and age are essential, and it is an issue that should be resolved within the business industry.
How to make an impact!
First, you have to realize that it is easier to change the business environment from a business concerned about diversity. At Invested Interest, we identify those companies that promote fair and equitable working conditions and companies with diverse boards and workforces. Diversity in all its aspects, from cultural diversity, LGBTQA+, to women in high-level management. Companies like Accenture, Fisher & Paykel, and other companies in our diverse portfolio.
Across the world, thousands of people are killed in armed conflicts annually. It is our responsibility as global citizens to invest responsibly and refuse to fund violence.
Armed Conflict is NOT a Foreign Problem
Americans tend to call out global violence without critically reflecting on the United States’ role in armed conflict. With the largest military in the world, the United States is very much an obstacle to peace.
The role of the military in the United States is nuanced. With a proposed budget of $705.4 billion, not every cent going to the Department of Defense explicitly funds violent exploits. The money goes towards research, government contracts, and more. Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman are just a few of the corporations benefitting from the massive defense budget.
This is not to say that investing in peace is an impossible task rather to recognize how much our country and economy rely on military funding.
Wars are expensive. Armed conflict is expensive. Making a collective action to invest in peace is a huge step towards ending conflict across the world.
Voting with your wallet for peace can be a daily activity. By understanding how companies support the military-industrial complex or actively fund armed conflict, we as consumers can make more informed decisions about where we spend our money.
Researching specific conflicts and how to boycott them is a great place to start. For instance, if you’re passionate about ending the oppression of Palestine, check out resources for boycotting the Israeli occupation.
Identifying specific causes you want to support or divest from can make researching companies easier and more manageable for daily life. For larger divesting goals, working with a divestment task force or an investment firm can make big goals achievable.
Divesting Works, The Sudan Divestment Task Force
Invested Interests got our start by working to invest in peace.
The Darfur Genocide began in the early 2000s when the Sudanese government armed Janjaweed began mass slaughtering and raping Darfuri men, women, and children in Western Sudan.
Working with the Sudan Divestment Task Force (SDFT), Invested Interests took a stand against these atrocities. Together, they ensured the task force’s divestment list was readily available through online tools and portfolios. Armed with the knowledge from the task force, individual investors could avoid the targeted corporations and divest from specific companies, like Schlumberger and PetroChina.
These efforts have had a significant impact on the region. And, while human rights in Sudan remain a pressing issue, progress has been made with the help of SDFT and Invested Interests.
Invest in Peace
We can all choose to invest in peace. While our causes and divestment strategies may differ, collective actions for peace are critical to building a peaceful future.
Get started today with the Peace Portfolio from Invested Interests.
COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us in many different ways. Many individuals have lost their jobs because of it, while others had their hours cut. Around 205,000 individuals have passed away from this virus. Eight months of this on-going pandemic has also negatively affected the U.S. economy.
The outcome of the pandemic
In July, 31.3 million people reported that they were unable to work at some point in the last 4-weeks. As of July, 16.9 million (57%) people were unable to work. Even though these statistics are in some way outdated as of September, there are still people who are unemployed while others have returned to their work. The pandemic has people less willing to spend money on unnecessary things/trips. Causing many sectors in the economy like the traveling industry, airline industries, and other leisure industries to be highly impacted by the pandemic.
Federal Reserve’s response to the economy
On September 16, 2020, Jerome Powell from the federal reserve announced that they are strongly committed to achieving the monetary goals that our congress has given them. These goals are price stability and higher employment rates. The pandemic has not made raising the employment rate as easy as the goal may seem and instead challenged this goal. However, they have offered relief like unemployment and President Trump signing the H.R., 748 Cares Act (a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill) on March 27, 2020, hoping the recovery is as easy as possible. With the pandemic in mind, which does not seem to be ending any time soon, the federal reserve has changed the policy statement to alleviate potentially severe damages of this pandemic and achieve the congress’s goals. The federal reserve has announced to keep interest rates near zero and plans to stay for three years (until 2023).
What do lower interest rates mean?
When the Federal Reserve lowers the interest rate, it is a tactic to stimulate economic growth. One reason why the Federal Reserve decided to reduce the interest rate may be because they want consumers to spend more money. With lower interest rates, it makes it easier for someone to finance assets like houses or cars. When interest rates are lower, financing becomes cheaper for individuals to borrow or invest. It can also be helpful for someone who has a 401(k) account or an investor. The lowering of interest rates will affect your investment portfolio. One thing to be aware of, while the lower rates will increase your stocks, your bond prices will be the ones that will be lower.
The bottom line is that depending on if you are a borrower or saver, the lowering of interest rate may or may not benefit you.
If you have any questions about the lowering of interest rates or your investments, please reach out to us! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org