Practical Acts is our open invitation to all like-minded individuals who are interested in the collective community, joyful power of giving, and actively understanding their impact in the world.
We are an American-British couple who have lived 18 years in London with our teenage sons. We’re avid runners who can often be found along the Thames or in Richmond Park. We’re passionate about:
- Education and Employment
- Climate and Nature
We believe that each of us can be the greatest platform for change. Through Practical Acts we are on a learning journey to see how our money purposefully affects today for a better tomorrow. By exploring different financial mechanisms that are available to us as individuals, we want to feel empowered that our choices matter and make a positive change. Our personal action plan is to dedicate funds toward purposeful financial impact, each year, for the next 10 years, harnessing the exponential ‘power of one’ leading through actions and influencing a healthier future for all people and places.
How did we get started?
There was no crash, bang wallop event that got us started. A series of little pieces, like bread crumbs dropped on a trail for us to find, our plan came together. Well, to call it a plan is actually a bit grand, as ‘plan’ indicates a roadmap from A to B. It’s taken nearly two years to find the words and actions, but, the more steps we take, the more committed we become to our vision that by 2030, we will have influenced a healthier future for the planet where our children will enjoy a better future than we started with in 2020.
At the end of 2020, like so many people in the middle of the pandemic, we were trying to do something – anything – that connected us to others. Somehow the world seemed more connected and isolated at the same time. By the end of the year the many implications of Covid were becoming clearer: the widening gap between rich and poor, access to technology; women’s rights; racial inequality to name a few… and then there was the call for climate action. 2030 was the new 2050: The alarm bell rang – if we had any hope of saving our planet, it needed to happen now, not in 30 years’ time but in 9 years. So, what could we do? We heard of the campaign ‘Make My Money Matter’, a call to action to explain that most pensions were actually underpinning the fossil fuel industry, so while we were busy drinking out of paper straws today, the investment moneys that we would touch for another 20 years, would inevitably produce far more damage to the planet than our daily habits would stop.
We read the book The Future We Choose by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac. They pose 2 scenarios: one of death and destruction or one of vibrancy and resilience. It was easy to see which option to aim for!
Having spent the better part of the year within 1000 meters of our home, our regular spending had dramatically dropped as well. While we had passively given to a handful of charities for a long time, it was a good time to rethink which charities we wanted to support. Stuart’s employer, Salesforce, already had a strong matching program, and 2020 saw them double their matching amount. We took this opportunity as an invitation to max our giving, especially in light of our recently conversations on climate change and inequality.
The last little piece was the global economy, of which we had a tiny piece. 2020 we may remember was quite the boom year for tech companies that provided necessary platforms for the new work-from-anywhere scenario so many companies needed. For us, this meant company shares value skyrocketed. It didn’t mean we were suddenly mega-millionaires, but it get us thinking
…we had an opportunity to allocate a portion of our savings specifically to playing our part in a greener future.
… and asking questions…
What is the role of individuals’ money in this great economic shift that everyone was talking about? Was it just the responsibility of big companies and governments to ensure our better future?
… and, what if, by allocating our money in this new purposeful way, we could generate even more money that we had now? What if it’s true that doing good with money added up to doing well financially?
… and how would we know our money mattered? Could we actually see it make a difference?
We were ready and willing to join a broad call to action and ‘Build Back Better’. We would treat our portion of funds as separate investment, topping it up each year like a ISA. We’d give it a name ‘Project 10!’ and work on its outcome like a side-hustle, with a budget, plan, and measurement.
And, so we began.
Our plan allocates £200,000 toward purposeful financial impact, each year, for the next 10 years, harnessing the exponential power of individuals leading through actions and influencing a healthier future for all people and places.
We opened a new bank account at Triodos Bank, a B-Corp that aims to change the financial industry by committing to ethical financing. Their tag line reads “our banking and financial services are for individuals who want to change the world.” Sounded like a good fit!
We took a deep dive into our personal investments, taking stock of where our money was invested and asked how we could actively put our money forward with purposeful intent. What we thought was going to be a financial advisor’s guided tour (ending with a pat on the back for ‘doing good’) quickly became an adventure through an uncharted jungle. We discovered many paths running through a maze of financial terms, global goals, media messages and seemingly eco-friendly financial services.
Next deep dive was to arm ourselves with a new vocabulary to navigate this jungle. Stephanie enrolled in Sustainable Finance at Cambridge University’s Center for Sustainable Leadership where she learned about the economic power levers of government, business, and finance. Ok, so, the first step was a giant leap into the unknown for her, but she learned there is a spectrum of financial activity emerging known as impact investing. And that an individual’s money matters here if deployed collectively and practically.