This article was originally published on Beliefnet in December 2000


Can a good-hearted person--someone like you--do well financially by making good-hearted investments?

At first blush, mixing wealth with moral satisfaction sounds impossibly lavish--too good to be true. Perhaps sensing the contradictory nature of their labors, most socially responsible investment funds (or SRIs) made only modest claims until a few years ago. Rather than contending they could make you rich, instead they said: You don't have to make big sacrifices when you choose us.

However, recently they've said: You can have it all! Many funds offer you the whole ball of yarn: You can get a strong economic reward from your positive social activity. What's more, independent mutual fund evaluators like Morningstar and Lipper agree. They gave excellent ratings to SRI funds like the Domini Social Index (DSEFX), Green Century Balanced (GCBLX), and Citizens Emerging Growth (WAEGX).

Remarkably, Domini has matched and even exceeded the performance of the Standard & Poor Index for five years, up until the first half of 2000.

Few professionally managed funds, even those operating without any particular social scruple, can match Domini's five-year record. Because of these successes, Morningstar estimates as many as 1 in every 8 investor dollars is now being funneled into SRIs. Aggregate SRI fund assets approached $3 trillion in 1999, an unimaginable sum. Just when it looked like you could eat your cake, and even nibble at the angel atop the icing, this year, like the rest of the market, SRI performance has gotten squishier. The high-tech implosion has hurt tech-heavy funds like Domini.

So you're asking yourself: Should I take the plunge? And if I do, which fund suits me? We'll try to help.

Beware the risks....

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