People may pray for abundance, but is there truly a divine intervention in investment opportunities? The Catholic Church and the Pope have started to weigh in on what they believe to be the holiest investment decisions. With the church’s guidance, Catholics are making investment decisions that help the world’s poor.
In the past, many Catholics avoided investing in businesses that did not align with the Church’s belief system. Increasingly now, Catholics are becoming interesting in what has been coined “impact investments.”
Impact investments are investment opportunities that actively work to serve a greater social good. The Catholic Church has taken an active stance in promoting and educating its members on impact investments.
The Vatican has held three investment conferences since 2014 that focus on identifying and pursuing impact investment opportunities. The conferences helped attendees understand how private capital could benefit the poor, a pillar of the Catholic religion.
The Vatican and the Pope’s endorsement of impact investments through the conferences spurred momentum through the Church. This momentum has inspired Catholic organizations to get involved in impact investments.
For example, the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) contributed to the organization of the Vatican’s impact investment conferences. Since its involvement, the humanitarian organization has put $4 million of its own money into impact investments.
Included in the impact investments are a loan delivered to a company that makes products from vanilla sourced in Madacasgar. Not only does the loan help the Madagascar farmers, the interest earned will help Catholic Relief Services invest in more positive social impact projects in the future.
Growing Interest from Religious Groups
It is not only the Catholic Church that is growing interest in impact investments. According to Amit Bouri, CEO of Global Impact Investing Network, investments in socially conscious causes is growing across the board. Bouri is seeing an increase in general from religious groups in impact investing.
The Pope’s leadership and endorsement has inspired other religious and socially conscious groups to think beyond just avoiding unethical companies in their investment decisions. Increasingly, more religious groups want to make a positive social impact with their money — not just avoid companies that do not align with their beliefs.
OIP Investment Trust, an investment firm that works with over 200 Catholic organizations, has seen similar trends in their business. Father Seamus Finn explains that Catholic organizations want to go beyond just avoiding certain companies. The organizations want to know their money is benefiting the world in a good way.
OIP Investment Trust has helped clients devote over $50 million to impact investments.
In the past, there has been a negative association with religious organizations, particularly the Catholic Church, making money off of their investments. Experts like Father Finn now say that perception is changing.
When the investments themselves make a positive impact, while simultaneously helping to fund more projects within the Church, it is now viewed more like a win-win situation.
—Written by Jacques Piccard, Managing Director of Davenport Laroche Shipping Container and Alternative Investments”