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Activity 4: Investment Decision Making

Activity time: 25 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Leader Resource 2, Annual Report Resource Examples
  • Newsprint, markers, and tape
  • Paper and pens
  • Optional: Hard copies of annual reports from a variety of publicly traded companies

Preparation for Activity

  • Read Leader Resource 2 and choose an example to give every two participants. Copy and paste each of your chosen examples to a separate document and print.
  • Prepare and post a sheet of newsprint for each example you chose from Leader Resource 2 with these items along the left-hand side:
    • Company
    • Values/Strategies Declared
    • Decision: Amount or Percentage Allocated
    • Actions Planned (for shareholder advocacy)
  • Optional: Set out annual reports.

Description of Activity

Tell participants they will practice a bit of investment analysis and decision-making, taking into account the principles of socially responsible investing. Say:

You are the newly formed Investment committee of a mid-sized Unitarian Universalist congregation. Upon recently receiving an unexpected $1 million bequest from a member, the Board has resolved to institute an endowment for the congregation's long-term financial health. Your committee has been convened and is now charged to invest the $1 million in a way that creates maximum economic return and is in line with the social justice objectives of the congregation, particularly with the "inherent worth and dignity of each person" and "the interdependent web" as guiding principles.

Before the Investment committee meets, you need to do your pre-meeting "homework."

Form pairs and give each pair a sheet with one of the examples you prepared from Leader Resource 2. Explain that each pair has an excerpt from an annual report of a publicly traded company. There are ten different business sectors represented, for example, agriculture, financial services, pharmaceutical.

Invite them to review the excerpt from a company's annual. Acknowledge that the information they have is limited. Ask them to pull out one or two key goals or strategies of the company that impress them and be ready to articulate the values those goals or strategies represent.

Post newsprint sheets while participants examine the annual report examples in pairs. After five minutes, ask each pair to write the company name and values/strategies declared on one of the sheets of newsprint.

Then, gather participants and ask them to agree on an allocation of the $1M among the investment options they have been provided. You may suggest that they begin with an agreement on the investing approach they will take, e.g., screening out undesirable stocks, choosing to take positions in order gain a voice with influential companies on important matters, or providing funding for an underdeveloped sector. Use the newsprint to record any decisions made. Stop the role play after 15 minutes, even in the likely event that they have not completed the process. Ask:

  • What did you learn from this process?
  • What would have helped you in your decision-making process?
  • How is what you learned from this exercise applicable to your own personal finances?

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