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Tristan Blythe: Charities should see their finances as a force for good

04 May 2021 Voices

The phrase “money is the root of all evil” is derived from the Bible. As many of you will already know, this shortened saying does leave out one key element of the original quote. The full quote actually says: “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”

Whether you are a Christian or not, it is easy to recognise that there is some truth in this. Financial greed (whatever Gordon Gekko might say) is not a good motivator and can lead people into, at best, highly dubious activities.

However, dismissing money in and of itself as evil seems a little too hasty. Charities across the country demonstrate the many good deeds that money can be spent on.

So beyond charitable spending, what are the positive ways money can be used? What about the way finances are managed? Can this be done in a way to promote positive outcomes? After all, every charity needs to use a bank and many have an investment portfolio, yet in popular culture and media the banking and financial sector is awash with the “love of money”.

This issue we look at both banking and investments – and there are welcome signs that charities are increasingly moving to a mindset that these too can be tools for creating a positive impact.

The Responsible Investment Supplement shows that demand from charities, as well as other investors, is driving the increase in responsible investment offerings, along with a recognition from many investment managers themselves it is the right approach to take.

There are still some improvements that can be made to these offerings, but the momentum seems unstoppable.

It is also welcome to see that charities are putting more emphasis on the ethical activities of their banking partners. With Extinction Rebellion saying it will increase its focus on the banking sector, this an area that may find itself in the spotlight throughout the year.

Charities may increasingly use their power and make decisions on what banks to use in order to help the banking sector to improve its ESG standards, much like they already are with investments.

In doing so, perhaps money can be the root of good deeds and a sustainable future after all.

Tristan Blythe is editor of Charity Finance

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