£25,000. It seems quite a lot of money. And it is a lot of money, by most people’s standards. Why are we looking for this amount of cash?
One of the challenges for the sustainable investment sector is the risk it ends up preaching to the already converted, which doesn’t really make the difference to the investment landscape that we need.
Sustainable investors know they should be investing in a way that balances the needs of the planet, its people and personal profit.
Investors can do it because of ethical concerns. Some investors believe that it is the socially responsible thing to do. Some investors have a desire to make a positive impact or avoid making a negative one. Other investors simply invest sustainably because they recognise a damn good investment opportunity when they see one and want to get in early – as with cleantech and renewables.
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Over 8,000 of these admirable investors read us already. And we are grateful to each and everyone. But there lies the problem.
If we’re preaching to the converted, we’re participating in a type of confirmation bias, albeit a positive one, where people seek out evidence that supports their worldview.
We’ve written about filter bubbles before and it’s already a major factor in climate change scepticism. Once you’ve started reading only those who agree with you, and then cherry-pick the evidence that supports your prejudice, you’re probably not getting an accurate picture of the evidence.
We need to reach well beyond the converted to make the difference to investment that we need. By methodically and reasonably setting out the case for sustainable behaviour, we may effect some change, but only if that message is read by those who have not yet started on that particular lifestyle.
If we just reach one person with a portfolio of £1m and encourage them to move it to more sustainable options, £25,000 will have a made a big return on investment.
And reaching people costs money. Those who know me know that, for my sins, I’m a marketer. We want to create three reports that will be read and reach enough people will cost £25,000.
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We could advertise in the newspapers and magazines read by investors. Or, as it is 2012, we could distribute the Guides widely online and, more importantly, email the unconverted a well-written, fair, optimistic and responsible analysis of the issue. Full of facts and simple steps that set out our case clearly, without lecturing or preaching. Giving this to them for free, with no strings attached, means they may just give us the time and read what we have to say.
We work with some of the best opt-in data providers in the UK as no one likes a spammer. But increasingly desperate times need more desperate measures. As the Arctic melt has so clearly shown, these are desperate times. Adopting a ‘build it and they will come’ approach may have worked for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, but they may arrive too late for us and our blue-green planet.
Everyday we see more evidence that sustainable funds are not being promoted. This seems to be due to concerns about investor appetite, which own research shows to be massively under-served. The second concern is that by badging some funds as sustainable, it by default makes the other funds look unsustainable. If they want to keep the funds quiet, we want to tell the world about them.
The last few times we have used this approach, over 30% of those we sent the emails to read them. More than 10% of those clicked through. That might not seem like a lot of people, but that meant 3,000 people with more than £500m to invest read about sustainable investment, 3,000 travellers read about sustainable tourism and 3,000 households looked at clean and limitless energy options.
This time we also want to target politicians, charities (who should know better) and local communities. We need a major step change in sustainable investment and consumption. We can do this with your help.
We have access to the data and we need your help to build the right product and right message and send that message to the right people.
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