As part of the Money Makes Change programme we are gathering stories from individuals and churches who are seeking to use the finances they steward to shape a fairer, more sustainable future for everyone.
In this reflection, Revd Canon John Nightingale from Birmingham shares some of the questions he has asked about his own finances and the steps he has taken to put that money to good use.
For years I had been troubled by the ethical use of money. What should I spend, save, invest, give away? As well as twinges of guilt there was the sheer complexity of taking all the factors into consideration in making particular decisions.
Then I heard about an ethical bank which doesn’t just avoid lending to harmful businesses but actively seeks out good ones, particularly those benefiting the environment.
At the moment I have a current account, an ISA savings account, and shares in an investment fund in new environmentally friendly businesses; this last is more risky but potentially more profitable than the others.
What difference does it make? Objectively, I have good reason to believe my money is hereby making the world a better place. Subjectively, I am no longer worrying about whether my money is doing any good, as I have every reason to believe it is, even when I am taking no further action at all.
The questions I am left with are: do I need to use any of my money for my own purposes, and should I give any of it completely away? Then, if I am considering giving it away, would doing so do any more good than keeping where it is at the moment? And at what point do I and my dependants have more than we need for long-term purposes?
These questions are not difficult or stressful to answer. Furthermore, I feel justified in discriminating between ‘good causes’ as to whether they are more or less worthwhile than my current investments; that’s a useful yardstick.
So now I am no longer concerned about what I should be giving out of my unethical money to others but rather what should I taking out of my own ethical money for my own or others’ purposes. Back to front.
Perhaps, in a shadowy twenty-first century way, I am experiencing a smidgeon of the Franciscan Joy in Poverty.
Take action as an individual
Choosing an ethical bank is one step you can take to make the world a better place. Triodos, Nationwide and the Co-operative Bank are all recommended by Ethical Consumer. Credit unions are a great ethical alternative too.
- Are you connecting your faith and your finances? Take our short 5-minute Bridging the Gap quiz to find out.
- Use the Green tool to find out if your bank is financing fossil fuels.
- Could you share a story to help inspire others to take action? Contact us.
Involve your church