Didn't want to post this yesterday to distract from the Carnival, but I have a guest post up at Get Rich Slowly: Community Investing and Other Socially Conscious Banking Options. Please go check it out if you haven't seen it already! I spent a bunch of time on it and am very proud of how it turned out. (I am not sure what the etiquette is around guest posts; I would like to put the post up here at some point, but it certainly won't be at least until J.D. gets back from vacation in a couple weeks and I can ask him about it, so I'd suggest you read it there for now.)
When you put your money in a bank to earn interest, the bank is actually turning around and loaning your money out again, to earn enough to pay you plus turn a profit. When you invest in a typical bank, the bank makes investments it thinks are best based solely on financial criteria, and you don't know where the money is flowing — it could be spent on manufacturing cluster bombs or financing companies that enrich and support the government in Sudan , to name just a few of the unsavory possibilities.
Other financial institutions, on the other hand, use a broader set of criteria — making investment decisions based on a combination of financial and social and/or environmental factors. This doesn't just mean avoiding negative investments — it allows funding to be targeted to specific causes in order create positive social and environmental impacts...
There's a wide range of community development/socially conscious products available, from checking and savings accounts to money market accounts and CDs, at hundreds of financial institutions. In general, the interest rates are considered market rate and are roughly comparable to what you'd find at an average bank– although they're not always going to match the very top rates available. Here are some of the highest-earning (as of 7/07) and/or most interesting options I've found: [click to read the full article]