Small & Simple: How to Make Hyperlocal "Impact Investments" with Your Stimulus Check

This piece was created in collaboration with artist Grace Yencer Harman and inspired by this piece published in Wirecutter.

I'm going to lead with the simple truth: not everyone is in a position to put their stimulus checks towards anything other than their bills. However, if you are one of the Americans in a the privileged position to begin to examine how you might be more intentional with this sudden influx of cash, keep reading.

Impact Investing is deploying money for two purposes: 1) To maximize your financial return & 2) To make a positive impact on the world or your community. Below are some small, simple impact investments that are all well within the range of a $1,200 check.


A few reasons credit unions are a simple and awesome impact investment:

1) Unlike banks, which operate for profit, credit unions are member-owned not-for-profit organizations. That means you're more than a customer; you're a member, and you get to vote on board directors and other officials. Each member’s vote carries equal weight, regardless of deposits at the credit union.

2) Credit unions’ not-for-profit status lets them distribute their profits to members through returns on savings and investments. As a result, credit unions often provide higher average returns on a national level than traditional banks do. They also charge lower fees and have lower interest rates on loans!

3)  Credit unions are known for their personalized service and community engagement. It’s common for them to give out scholarships, donations and grants, or host concerts and volunteer events. Our local credit unions are some of the most reliable corporate donors in our community!

Talk about putting your money to work! Consider creating a checking or savings account with a local credit union and depositing your entire stimulus check. You'll be making money with your money and making your community stronger at the same time!


A few reasons a season pass is a simple and awesome impact investment:

1) You'll end up saving around 20% at organizations like @fortwayneballet and have many flexible options for using your season subscription at organizations like @fwmoa@fwphil and @fwcivictheatre!

2) You'll make a cash infusion into the arts organization immediately, which so many of these organizations need after cancelling the remainder of their season.

3) You'll send a message that we not only want -- we EXPECT -- these arts organizations to survive to bring us joy and beauty in the near future.


A few reasons planting an edible garden is a simple and awesome impact investment:

1) Talk about reaping what you sow! Gardens are an awesome, inexpensive way to literally grow your own green...For the price of a head of lettuce you can buy 200 lettuce seeds!

2) Learning about and connecting with the labor that goes into our food is a humbling and inspiring experience. You'll have more appreciation for farmers and you'll be inspired every day by your little plants trying their best.

3) Gardens aren't only a way to connect with nature, they're also a wonderful way to connect with your kids and neighbors! Nothing says love like delivering a handful of greens you grew in the dirt yourself to a neighbor's doorstep.

Planting seeds or starter plants and nurturing them to bear fruit is one of the most human and holistic bits of work we can do. I encourage you to find at least a small way to engage in edible gardening this year.


A few reasons joining a "CSA" is a simple and awesome impact investment:

1) CSA stands for "Community Supported Agriculture", and just like you can buy stocks or shares in a business, you purchase a "share" of a farm's harvest! This is literally investing in a farm!

2) Fort Wayne has an incredible local option in Hawkins Farm -- where you can even customize your share each week.

3) You can make an upfront investment to support your local food system out of your stimulus check, while enjoying the delicious and life-giving benefits for months to come.


A few reasons working with an artist is a simple and awesome impact investment:

1) Photographers and other artists are the storytellers that remind us of beauty and truth in the world. There aren't many relief options for those in the gig-economy right now, so your upfront investment goes a long way.

2) Art is a great investment! Akin to an experience vs. a thing, art lasts generations and can have meaning and value beyond even your lifetime.

3) Investment in and support of artists is one of the key trends that separates thriving and not thriving communities.

I'll be doing a full series on how to populate your walls with local art soon! In the meantime, call up your favorite photographer and prepay for a spring or summer session, or buy some art from your favorite local artists's Etsy page! Every little bit helps.


A few reasons joining a grocery co-op is a simple and awesome impact investment:

1) Co-ops offer access to local, organically grown meats and produce that might not be available at regular grocery stores or supermarkets.

2) Members of co-ops are owners! Each member has an ownership stake, known as a share, in the co-op. Your upfront investment gets you something more than just groceries! 3 Rivers Food Coop in Fort Wayne has a few ways to become a member-owner including a one-time payment of $200, or that same amount paid over a few years with at least $25 paid each year.

3) Co-op's might be a bit pricier than your local big-box, but membership has lots of perks including discounts, the ability to place special orders, coupons, voting rights, and more.

Being an impact investor doesn't have to be a pipe dream. Start small, start simple. Get your money more aligned with your values, and do some good with your dollars. Today!

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