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Put Your Money Where Your Values Are

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I’m on the board of a local nonprofit organization, where I oversee our endowment. Some of our money is invested in stocks that I find ethically dubious. It pains me that, in the service of our worthy cause, we support corporations that are contributing to the world’s problems. Yet when I raised the issue with another board member, he said I had to put our organization’s financial health first. How can I uphold my fiduciary duty to the organization while making the case to divest our endowment of these stocks?Paul Sutherland: Many fiduciaries—even nonprofit directors who are trying to save the world or walk an ethical path with their foundations—think their endowment is only about money. When it comes to investing, they place ethics and virtue in the “sounds nice” bin. So you are not alone.What I find interesting is the board’s idea that being unethical is supportive of good financial health. I would ask the board some very specific questions about how they believe the endowment should be managed:•Do they want to support organizations that misrepresent their products, or are run by a management that has …

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland resides in Michigan with his four youngest kids, ages 5 to 10. He and his wife, Amy, try to be an example of Parenting for a Peaceful world, in which democracy begins at home.


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