Graphic by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash.com
Common Good Investment Clubs
Why a club. Do you have savings, investments, or a retirement account? Do you wish you could invest that money in locally-owned companies and projects that advance the well being of everyone in your community — instead of in huge corporations that have no accountability and don ’t add anything to the local economy?
Investment Clubs are a way to fund great local projects — especially ones that have difficulty getting other funding — without the costly burdens of regulation and reporting.
The basic idea is that we each put $100 or more in the pool, then we get together quarterly (online or in person) to make investment decisions.
If you want to know when a Common Good Investment Club is starting in your area, click here:
Common questions. People asked many excellent questions in our Q&A sessions in 2020. Here are a few of those questions, with answers.
Q: What would I be agreeing to, as a club member? A: The short answer is: you agree to put some money in the pot and decide democratically with other club members how to invest it for the Common Good. The longer answer is laid out in our Partnership Agreement.
Q: What is the purpose of the investments: profit or philanthropy? A: Both. Investments will be selected based on their value to the greater good — that is the main purpose of the club. Club members will aim for a reliable small return — typically in the range of 3-5%.
Q: Will the investments be small and local? A: In the short term, yes. As participation grows we can have a bigger impact by investing regionally and beyond.
Q: What will we invest in, specifically? A: That is left to club members to propose and to decide democratically, one person one vote. As an example of what we might decide together, participants on an earlier calls suggested funding Northeast Biodiesel or the Compost Cooperative, or funding conversion to a worker-coop when a business’s founders “age out”.
Q: What WON’T we invest in? A: Beyond choosing investments in keeping with the Earth Charter, there are no specific filters. Instead, club members decide what constitutes the greater good and can veto any investment they find unacceptable. If an investment is vetoed by 5% or more of the members, it will not be made.
Q: Do these clubs duplicate what other investment pools are already doing? A: In most regions, no. We know of no other locally-focused democratic investment opportunities for people of average means.
Q: How is this any better than just investing in local stuff on my own? A: If you are an accredited (millionaire) investor and know what you want to invest in, go for it! People with less means generally are not permitted to hear about investment opportunities (unless they belong to an investment club) and struggle to decide what to invest in. Deciding together can be easier and more fun.
Q: How will I know how much my investment is worth? A: Club members will choose a committee to assess (and adjust) the value of each club investment quarterly, using standard methods. You (and each member) own a fraction of the total value of the club’s investments, in proportion to the amount of money you put in. That fractional value is displayed in the club section of the website when you sign in.
Q: Where can I learn more about local investing? A: Scott Reed, one of the architects of Common Good Investment Clubs, maintains invest-here-now.org. The site has information on local, community-spirited investment anywhere in the country, as well as tips specific to Western Massachusetts.