​A word on movements, ethical finance and values

Written by Lisa Stanley Mann on 10th Nov 2015

Charity Bank’s chief executive Patrick Crawford uses fair trade as an example of the change that’s possible when we put our money where our values are.


A powerful movement of the sixties: fair trade

The fair trade movement started with the ‘solidarity traders’, groups who took inspiration from the Anti-Apartheid Movement’s boycott of South African goods, and the charity activists of the sixties, who sold fair trade coffee to committed supporters.

Since then fair trade has grown into a globally recognised label that makes it possible for people to put a chocolate bar in their shopping basket knowing that the farmer who grew the cocoa beans has been treated fairly.

Fair trade has come to stand for a consumer reaching out across the globe to the producer to work towards a fairer system of trade. Chief executive of Fairtrade International Harriet Lamb describes it as a “quiet revolution in our shopping baskets”, a way of putting justice into unfair trade “step by step, product by product.”

Banking for good

Increasingly, people are looking for beacons of light in the opaque world of banking and a similar movement is emerging. Just as people realised that what they paid for a chocolate bar could be funding abuses of farmers, now more and more people are discovering that the money they save with a bank might be used to fund activities they wouldn’t dream of endorsing, from producing fossil fuels to funding the arms trade.

Like fair trade, the roots of the movement can be traced back to the charity sector where alternative views of the world thrive. Charities and social enterprises were some of the first to begin saving with ethical banks, like Charity Bank. They looked for banks that shared their values and their ethical standards.

Like fair trade, the ethical finance movement is growing. Now just as parents can buy fair trade chocolate for their children, they can set up ethical bank accounts for them. People are starting to move their money, so that they can have more control over where it goes and what it does. In 2014 there was £862 million saved with ethical banks, Charity Bank, Triodos UK and the Ecology Building Society, up from £684 million in 2013.

Not just dreaming of a better world, busy building one

Ethical finance, like fair trade, is about building a better world. Ethical savers seek a fair return and want to see their money do good, making it possible for Charity Bank to make loans to charities and social enterprises. At the same time money in an ethical account shows that there is a demand for banks that take their obligation to society and the environment seriously, laying the foundations for change.

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