Friday, August 29, 2008


The RSPCA has an ethical investment policy - basically that society funds shouldn't be invested in anything which causes harm to animals (as that would negate the point of having them, anyway). Putting this into practice isn't exactly as straightforward as it might seem, as I've been finding out.

If you have large amounts of money that you can tie up for several years, there's no problem getting a tailor-made investment package where your funds are invested in companies which fit whatever criteria you specify. For smaller amounts (where "small" means less than about £500,000) it's only really feasible to put your money into existing schemes, and in our case it appears that the only really viable choice is between building societies (you know the funds are invested in property) and the Co-operative Bank (they have a pre-existing list of sectors where they won't invest depositors' money). It's looking as though the Co-op is going to be the right "home" for the money we know we won't need to touch for at least a year.

Unfortunately this doen't completely solve our problems as the Co-op doesn't have many branches where our shops and volunteers can bank cash takings, so it wouldn't be practical to transfer our current account there. We probably also need to maintain some cash on short-term deposit at our current bank because we need to be able to transfer money quickly into the current account when necessary.

I sometimes get asked rather aggressively "what companies do you invest your funds in?" - with the implication that we're probably funding smoking beagles and cosmetics testing. It always sounds rather evasive to say "that's not how banking works", but I'm afraid that's the actual truth. We're not big enough or rich enough to be investing in individual share holdings.

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