Highly-Rated Sustainable-ESG Assets Offer the Comfort of Having a Constant Positive Impact.
The purpose of creating a Planned Giving strategy at any level of wealth is to formalize, in a tax-efficient manner, your desire to give back to the entities and causes that are close to your heart. It’s a noble process that has positive impact; but it can feel unfulfilling in quiet months between gifts, depending on how the giving strategy has been structured. Many folks who have enacted Planned Giving efforts want to do more, to have a constant positive impact “in the now.” Here’s a rewarding way to do that.
Integrating Sustainable Investing into Planned Giving
You can put your assets to work every day for the good of the planet and humanity by aligning your investments with your values, beliefs, and causes in the growing movement known as Sustainable (or ESG) Investing. Originally known as Socially Responsible Investing, the Sustainable-ESG wave is nothing new, but today’s version is exceedingly more sophisticated and easy to execute. As a result, it’s evolving quickly and well on the way to going mainstream, as the most prominent investment companies in the world—Blackrock and Goldman Sachs most notably—are now publicly commenting and encouraging “responsible investing” designed for impact in the era of climate change and other social and environmental challenges.
What Exactly is ESG?
ESG is an acronym for Environmental-Social-Governance factors, the criteria by which public companies are now judged for being good corporate citizens and stewards for the environment, humanity, and shareholders. There is a distinct set of criteria for each of the E-S-G categories, set by the primary two rating sources, Sustainalytics and MSCI. Fund companies that specialize in the ESG space also apply their own proprietary systems and due diligence processes for vetting the worthiness of corporations for inclusion in each fund’s theme.
Hundreds of passive and active Sustainable (ESG) mutual funds and ETFs now track everything from indices filtered for “ESG Leaders” down to specific causes and themes such as Renewable Energy, Water Quality & Conservation, and Gender Equality. ESG fixed income instruments (“green bonds”) are also growing in availability and acceptance. As a result, entire “responsible” portfolios can be built on traditional stock/bond allocation models and fine-tuned to the beliefs of the individual investor.
Growing Your Charitable Assets with Sustainable-ESG Investing
For charitable giving, Sustainable-ESG assets can be managed within a Donor Advised Fund or gifted to a charitable trust. All the while, your money is working positively—in the present—to support public companies that are good corporate citizens. It’s a more fulfilling endeavor for those wanting to align their assets for good.
Lastly, the best news is burgeoning evidence that no difference exists between the performance of Sustainable-ESG vs. traditional investing. Among others, the International Monetary Fund’s Global Financial Stability report (Oct 2019) found that the performance of Sustainable-ESG funds is comparable to traditional funds. “We don’t find conclusive evidence that sustainable investors underperform or outperform regular investors for similar types of investments,” wrote the IMF. Some experts argue, in fact, that enterprises with high ESG ratings have something of a moat around the stock value that may become more evident during downturns.
Keep in mind: the due diligence quality of ESG funds can vary, and it’s advisable to work with a Sustainable-ESG Investing specialist to become precisely-aligned with your charitable goals, values, and causes.
Learn about author, Josh Weller