At first glance, North Face and Tesla might not appear to have much in common. However, the truth is they share an important distinction: both companies are socially responsible organizations committed to giving back to their communities.
And investors can get in on the charitable action by supporting them. Socially responsible investing, or SRI, refers to the practice of investing in companies for the greater good as well as monetary gain.
“Socially responsible investing is not only the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do as well,” said Melissa Levick, vice president of business development and strategy at Pledgeling, the world’s first charitable giving and impact platform that helps build stronger relationships between people and organizations.
And the research backs up her claim. According to Babson College’s Project ROI report, corporate responsibility increases a company’s market value by up to 6 percent and increases shareholder value by $1.28 billion over a 15-year period.
There’s no promise that buying stock in these companies will make you rich, but you will likely feel better knowing you’re supporting a good cause. For socially responsible investment advice, consider these 15 companies.
1. Amazon ($990.90 NYSE: AMZN)
Amazon might already be your one-stop shop for everything from groceries to cleaning supplies. If not, the fact that the innovative e-commerce superstore enables you to give money to a good cause with Amazon Smile might inspire you to visit the site. When you make purchases through the website Smile.Amazon.com, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5 percent of the purchase price to the charity of your choice.
Moreover, Levick said the company is environmentally conscience, supports small businesses and makes local donations.
“Amazon was the leading corporate purchaser of renewable energy in 2016. Their commitment to sustainability extends to reducing the footprint of their offices/fulfillment centers and responsibly sourcing,” she said.
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2. Facebook ($171.98 NASDAQ: FB)
Despite its innumerable competitors, Facebook remains the ringleader when it comes to social media. In fact, you’re likely one of the site’s 2 billion monthly users.
And if you’re looking to become a socially responsible investor, you might want to consider adding Facebook to your portfolio. The company is transitioning to become 100 percent reliant on renewable energy, according to its page on environmental stewardship. In 2016, Facebook powered 43 percent of its operations with clean and renewable energy.
3. Tesla ($355 NASDAQ: TSLA)
You might not have the financial resources to afford one of the electric cars from this Silicon Valley automaker just yet, but you can support Tesla’s environmental mission by investing in its stock.
“Tesla’s social responsibility lies in its core product offering,” said Levick. “The company’s electric cars are viewed as an answer to the negative impacts of cars, improving communities and the environment at large.”
The cars are environmentally friendly with zero emissions. Further, CEO Elon Musk chose to allow individuals and other companies to use the company’s patents in order to advance technology — and hopefully do further good.
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4. Whole Foods ($41.79 NASDAQ: WFM)
Whole Foods Market is a premium supermarket with an emphasis on natural, organic and sustainable foods. But according to Levick, the retailer does a lot more than help consumers catch up on the latest health food trends.
“The company also funds its in-house foundation, Whole Planet Foundation, which is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty by funding microloans around the world,” she said.
So, while you might not do all your shopping at this premium retailer, you can invest in the company and know you’re supporting a greater cause.
5. Alphabet ($945.10 NASDAQ: GOOGL)
Alphabet, the parent company of Google, might be one of the best SRI stocks to consider. The company even received recognition for its corporate responsibility by The Reputation Institute, the world’s leading research and advisory firm for reputation. Alphabet/Google ranked first among companies in its 2015 report.
According to Levick, Alphabet aims to improve the world by organizing information and making it universally accessible. Further, it boasts “an in-house nonprofit, Google.org, the philanthropic arm that leverages Google’s strengths to try to solve some of the world’s most pressing social problems.”
6. Target ($58 NYSE: TGT)
You’re a loyal Target shopper if you have a REDcard and know Cartwheel. However, there’s more to Target than discounts and deals.
Take impact investing, for example. According to Levick, Target is a standout company for social responsibility.
“Target has a legacy of giving and service, with efforts in sustainability, responsible sourcing, education, wellness, civic activity, diversity and inclusion and volunteerism. Target also actively seeks to bring products that give back into their stores — promoting small businesses and brands that give back through their vast distribution channel,” she said. One of Target’s company-wide policies is to donate 5 percent of profits to its local communities.
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7. The North Face ($63.21 NYSE: VFC)
North Face is a brand synonymous with the outdoors, supplying apparel for winter sports and other adventures. Even if you aren’t exactly the sporty type, the brand can offer you peace of mind when it comes to socially responsible investments.
“North Face and its parent company, VF, have established a robust set of social, environmental and ethical standards throughout the entire supply chain, supported and enforced by a team of SAI Certified Compliance Auditors,” said Levick.
The brand also uses high-quality, specialized fabrics that save water and energy and reduce the need for chemicals.
8. Southwest Airlines ($55.37 NYSE: LUV)
Southwest actively supports charitable giving, volunteerism and environmentally sustainable practices, making it a great socially responsible investment, said Levick.
For example, the company has a yearly Medical Transportation Grant Program to help families facing serious illnesses that require specialized treatment elsewhere. The company also works with military members and their families, helps with disaster preparedness and response and takes Environmental Stewardship very seriously, according to its website.
Recently, Southwest donated a turbofan aircraft engine worth $100,000 to Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s Aviation Training Center.
9. Nordstrom ($47.75 NYSE: JWN)
There’s more to a retailer than what ends up in your shopping bag. Luckily, Nordstrom offers more than expensive merchandise.
Just as Nordstrom’s brands and customer service make you feel good about shopping there, you might also feel happy adding the company as an SRI. Nordstrom works hard to be an environmentally conscious and community-centric company, said Levick.
“Their efforts include supporting employee volunteer opportunities, charitable donations, worker empowerment and education, safe factory settings, reducing carbon footprint, conservation of resources and providing sustainable product offerings to customers and employees,” she said.
10. Lululemon ($62.35 NASDAQ: LULU)
Lululemon Athletica, a retailer of yoga-style apparel, is another socially responsible company to consider for impact investing. Levick said Lululemon promotes health and wellness among its customers, while making efforts to ensure its supply chain is conflict free.
“They also work with local businesses for distribution, promoting community building before opening retail and, once there is retail presence, provide each store with a budget to donate to local causes and organizations,” she said.
Additionally, the company strives to reduce its carbon footprint and waste, believing environmental health to be essential for personal health.
11. Kroger ($24.34 NYSE: KR)
Kroger is another example of why you should choose SRI for your portfolio, said Levick. The affordable grocery store chain has an impressive corporate responsibility program — in fact, Kroger has donated more than $1.5 billion to local communities since 2010. Although this stock might not make you rich, you can rest easy knowing you’re investing in a company with strong values.
Kroger also use responsible supply chain practices and strives to achieve environmental sustainability. The company created 9,000 new jobs in 2015.
12. Nike ($59.79 NYSE: NKE)
Nike is a perfect example of a company that has worked hard to turn its corporate reputation around. Once associated with sweatshops and child labor allegations, today the company has received accolades for its social responsibility.
“Nike has come a long way in its corporate responsibility by committing to creating social innovation by minimizing its environmental footprint, [boosting] sustainable labor practices and creating opportunities for volunteerism and giving back on the local level,” said Levick.
13. Starbucks ($55.60 NASDAQ: SBUX)
If you’re one of the millions of people who can’t conquer the day without a Starbucks fix, you should know the company aspires to be just as renowned for its commitment to social responsibility as its coffee.
“Starbucks has committed to making a positive impact on the communities that they serve through ethical and sustainable sourcing, minimizing [its] environmental footprint, local volunteer programs and creating opportunities for employment globally,” said Levick.
In particular, the coffee giant has created a global network of farmer support centers around the world to produce ethically sourced coffee. Additionally, Starbucks has a great reputation as an employer and plans to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses by 2018.
14. Procter & Gamble ($91.44 NYSE: PG)
Somewhere in your house you almost certainly own a product made by Procter & Gamble — the company is behind brands like Tide, Gillette and Crest. What you might not know is that social responsibility is at the core of the 175-year-old company. In fact, P&G was named a Top Socially Responsible Dividend Stock by Dividend Channel based on an analysis of social and environmental criteria, according to Forbes.
As for its products, P&G does no animal testing except where required by law. The company also has programs such as Children’s Safe Drinking Water, which creates clean water in more than 75 countries.
15. Johnson & Johnson ($132.70 NYSE: JNJ)
A global company, Johnson & Johnson is committed to cutting waste and energy use at its facilities.
In fact, in 2016 Johnson & Johnson created a four-year plan that maps out environmentally focused benchmarks to hit as part of its Citizenship and Sustainability 2020 goals. Objectives include developing and delivering life-changing solutions for the world’s major health challenges, such as HIV. Johnson & Johnson also strives to create the ultimate culture of health and well-being with its partners and employees.
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All stock quotes are correct as of close on August 7, 2017.
About the Author
With a broadcast news career that spans more than a decade, Lia Sestric has had the opportunity to cover local and national news for television and radio. The Washington, D.C.-based writer has been freelance writing for a number of years. She frequently writes about higher education, careers, and finance. Along with GOBankingRates, her work has appeared on major sites like Yahoo, The Huffington Post, MSN and many other news outlets.