These days, most people don't have a lot of money to invest, and those who do are probably best served by sure bets, like gas, diamonds, and the Euro. On the other hand, investors who want to entrust their hard-earned dollars to companies that reflect their moral beliefs could hardly pick a better time to get involved in the market. Faced with the major moral, political, and cultural issues of the day, many groups have started funds that let investors, quite literally, vote with their wallets. If you have some money to play with and a political, religious, or social axe to grind, you should take a look at these investment opportunities:
Green Funds: If you hadn't heard of them before, you might have noticed the emergence of so-called "Green Hedges" when Al Gore launched his "Global Equity Fund," which is run by Generation Investment Management. Gore's idea is simple: as he notes, "The principles and ways and values that have an impact on the way markets allocate resources can have an enormous effect" on the environment. By giving people a way to put their money into green investments, Gore hopes to encourage businesses that are actively working against global climate change.
Unfortunately, Gore's fund is almost full, and will be closing very soon. However, there are no lack of green investment opportunities, from the Green Century Fund to Winslow Management's Green funds to Portfolio 21. Before plunking down your money, you will probably want to take a long, hard look at the performance history of the funds and the companies that they invest in. Regardless of their performance, however, investing in green funds will probably give you the smug joy that you can only get from saving the world. I imagine it's a lot like shopping at Whole Foods.