Last summer, my husband and I traveled to Toronto for a wedding. As we were exploring the city, we passed a flyer for a charity who worked on the environment.
Environmental charities had been weighing on my mind a lot. I’ve always been concerned about climate change and was starting to feel guilty for all of the flying we’d done that year - across the Atlantic and back three times, and within Europe and the U.S. a few times more. I found a charity that calculated your C02 output, calculated how many trees would need to be planted to offset the amount, and how much planting those trees would cost. They would then do the planting for you after a donation was made. I was intrigued, and showed it to my husband, a financial analyst. He was less than impressed with their financials, and once I looked into them more, I agreed that this wasn’t the best place to give my money if I wanted to have an impact on climate change.
While I wasn’t sure about climate change related donating, I was sure about climate change related investing. I had recently bought shares of a clean energy ETF, which is basically a basket of clean energy related stocks all bundled together. This allowed for me to invest in clean energy stocks and diversify my portfolio without spending too much time researching individual stocks.
Diversifying your portfolio is risk management 101 – some stocks will go down while others will go up. Generally, if you’ve invested in enough different stocks and the market is up, your portfolio will be too.
This clean energy ETF got me thinking – why aren’t there ETFs but with charities instead of stocks? Climate change, along with most other major problems in the world, can’t be solved by one charity, one company, or one policy.
After doing more research, I found organizations with vast encyclopedias of charities and ratings based on their financials or other quantitative data. But quantitative data doesn’t tell the whole story – what are they doing in their day-to-day operations for the cause? What research have they written, what companies have they collaborated with, what services do they provide?
I found myself wishing for someone to do it all for me. I wanted explicit recommendations for which charities I should donate to if I’m concerned about climate change. Along with the recommendations, I wanted reassurance that the charity was financially responsible and having a real impact on the problem. Lastly, I wanted an online platform where I could easily donate to a number of charities at once, instead of having to go to five different websites and receive five different receipts and newsletters.
When I couldn’t find something like this, I decided to make it myself. Simply Virtuous aims to be all of the things I was looking for – easy to use and convenient, without compromising on data or integrity. I hope that you find it useful, and if you have any suggestions for improvement, please let me know.