For Larry and Suzanne Vanden Plas, investing for charitable giving is about the corporal works of mercy: They perform the works they can, and they support local organizations to do what they can’t with gifts from their donor-advised fund managed by Catholic Community Foundation of Minnesota.
“When you look at the corporal works of mercy, how would you do that?” asked Larry, who along with Suzanne belongs to St. John the Baptist in New Brighton. “If you limit yourself to only those situations that you personally could do, one to one, you’re going to miss out on most of it … What we can do is support these different activities and actually be personally involved in some of them.”
To receive insights and updates to help them in what is often more long-term stewardship, the Vanden Plases and more than 200 other individual donors, financial advisors, and representatives of parishes and other Catholic organizations attended the St. Paul-based foundation’s 22nd annual investment conference Feb. 8 at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.
At the conference, CCF provided organizational updates and a market forecast. The Vanden Plases learned that along with choosing the educational, social and spiritual organizations they contribute to through their fund, they soon may be able to grow the fund with investment vehicles that also advance their values and beliefs.
While Catholic charitable investors have been able to exclude from their portfolios companies or funds whose practices are inconsistent with their values and beliefs, they soon will have more options for actively choosing companies or funds that have practices consistent with Church teaching and tradition, said Oblate Father Séamus Finn, chief of faith consistent investment of Washington, D.C.-based OIP Investment Trust, a professionally managed diversified investment fund managing financial resources of more than 200 Catholic organizations.
Such faith-consistent investing that applies social and environmental principles consistent with one’s faith can yield as good a return or better, he said.
Popes and U.S. bishops have long encouraged social responsibility in the economic sphere. For example, Pope Francis has emphasized issues concerning migrants and refugees, the environment and climate change, human trafficking, inequality and greater access to goods, Father Finn said.
The Vatican has encouraged developing new, more universal guidelines for socially responsible investing that builds on previous guidelines and reflect Church teaching, he said.