Socially Responsible Investing
Wisconsin Foundation UCC creates positive change through socially responsible investing
The foundation made a $500,000 loan to United Church Camps, Inc., as part of our fixed-income portfolio. The loan met our 5-year benchmark for bonds and reduces the interest paid by UCCI on its previous loan.
Our bond fund investments include Green & Social Bonds from the International Finance Corporation, an agency of the World Bank. The bonds fund projects around the world with the goal of ending extreme poverty and addressing climate change. A recent project built a massive solar array in Mexico to reduce carbon emissions.
Through our partnership with the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, we supported advocacy to address workplace policies that reinforce racism—not only in company culture but more broadly throughout society. For example, ICCR persuaded Keycorp Bank to evaluate the racial equity impact of its harmful overdraft policies/practices.
The Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility also used shareholder resolutions and proxy votes to address the climate change. ICCR resolutions led banks to commit to net-zero emissions in financing activities by 2050 and Valero to introduce a new “Energy Transition Performance Measure” into its executive incentive compensation program.
A brief introduction to socially responsible investing
Our Mission Statement guides the Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) approach of the Wisconsin Foundation UCC: “The Wisconsin Foundation UCC is a catalyst for positive change in the life of the UCC in Wisconsin; promotes a culture of generosity; and connects people across the UCC in working for a more just world.”
The mission statement leads us to articulate three related goals in our investing:
- Prudent investments to generate resources for our partner congregations and organizations. We invest our assets with experienced managers who maintain a foundation appropriate mix of investments (typically 65% equities, 35% fixed income). Generations Investment Services, a subsidiary of the Pension Boards of the United Church of Christ, provides our primary portfolio management. We evaluate our investment performance against industry benchmarks.
- Reflecting UCC faith and values of the United Church of Christ in our investments and shareholder activism. Resolutions passed by the annual meeting of the Wisconsin Conference UCC shape our faith and values: Care of Creation, Human Rights and Racial Equity, and promoting the Common Good. These commitments lead us to screen out some investment options such as private prisons, firearms manufacturers, and coal and tobacco producers. We also seek out investments that support our values. Through participation in the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, we engage in advocacy, shareholder resolutions, and public policy engagement to influence corporate behavior.
- Create positive change through faithful investments, shareholder engagement, and solid returns. Investing together in the foundation provides each of our congregations and agencies with greater investment impact than they would obtain on their own. Pooling our investments also allows us to pool our proxy votes, creating a voice for our values in corporate boardrooms. We create change through advocacy, shareholder resolutions and proxy votes, and public policy engagement with corporate leaders. This means that 100% of a congregation’s invested funds can do good: the 5% used as an annual draw and the 95% reinvested each year in a socially responsible way.