3 ways to get GOOD Christmas money gifts

Written by Lisa Stanley Mann on 15th December 2015

Uh oh. Christmas is fast approaching and you (delete as appropriate):

a) can’t face wandering vaguely round the shops again / ever

b) really can’t get you dad / brother / brother-in-law / godson another NatGeo sub / cook book / bike light / pair of organic Hebridean woollen socks

c) refuse to use Amazon and buy them what they’ve actually requested

If you fall into any of the above groups, then read on. We might just save your Christmas. Really.

Money is a boring gift, right? Well, given in cheque, cash or voucher form, yes, of course. Useful but meaningless.

But have you ever thought about a financial gift that gives something back, too? Not a faceless investment, but one you can see, feel, touch, perhaps.

To help you choose a financial gift that gives back, we’ve compiled three options to impress the (Christmas) socks off your relatives – and yes, they can all be ‘bought’ online. At 11:59pm on Christmas Eve if you’d like. But you wouldn’t leave it that late, would you?

Please remember there are risks with some of the options laid out below – with share and debenture investment, you could lose all of your capital. With that in mind, read on..

  1. Investment in a debenture with Abundance, the ethical and environmental peer-to-peer investment platform.

Like any investment, these carry a certain amount of risk. But they can be a good extension to a diversified investment portfolio. There are a range of projects to choose for the underlying investment, again each with varying degrees of risk. But the neat thing is that they pay back the initial invested capital in installments over the life of the investment, meaning the risk of not getting all your money back keeps reducing as well.

AND, happy Christmas again, many of the debentures offer twice-yearly (Christmas and summer) payments of capital and income, which means the amount you invest is not locked away for the life of the investment. You can then choose to reinvest these payments, or withdraw the income and repaid capital. Indeed, Abundance has just this week made its Christmas payment to investors in six of the 15 renewable energy projects funded to date, taking its total cash payments issued to more than £1.2million.

What’s more, the the renewable energy projects funded by Abundance investors have to date so far generated more than 9.5 million kWh of electricity – more than enough to meet the electricity needs of more than 2,000 households over the last year.

2. Gift them the chance to co-own the Archers’ inspiration, Rush Farm, via the Stockwood Community Benefit Society

Back in the 1950s, Rush Farm, in Worcestershire, was the inspiration behind the Radio 4 serial, the Archers. Today, the farm and now business park, is owned by a community trust set up in 2012 to protect it as a biodynamic organic farm, to provide education and be a model of sustainable farming and ethical business practice.

Anyone is free to become a member of Stockwood CBS through buying a minimum of £100 worth of shares, and a maximum of £100,000. Currently, Stockwood CBS also pays 5% annually to its members (the percentage is decided annually by the directors). You can buy shares to become a member of Stockwood CBS via Ethex, the ethical share trading platform.

As with the Abundance debentures, and indeed any investment, there is the risk that you may not get back all or any of your initial investment.

3. An ethical ISA or savings account with an ethical bank, such as Charity Bank or Triodos Bank

Both Charity Bank and Triodos Bank offer a range of savings accounts and cash ISAs with varying interest rates. Each bank finances only ethical and sustainable businesses, social enterprises and charities across the UK. Triodos, via its www.knowwhereyourmoneygoes.co.uk website, allows savers to see each and every organisation it lends to and, if you really wanted to, you could plug in your postcode, seek out and even visit in person those organisations listed near you (or your Dad / brother / brother in law / godson, etc, etc, etc). Charity Bank offers something similar on the social impact section of its site, where you can find stats and data about its recent loans, as well as read stories of recent loan recipients.

Triodos also offers a stocks and shares ISA, allowing investment in two different funds. And many other more established UK fund managers also offer SRI, or socially responsible investment, funds. A good place to look and compare is EIRIS’ Your Ethical Money.

But, if you’re not quite prepared to take plunge on your relative’s behalf, then why not simply book them a session with an ethical IFA? You can find one near you listed with the Ethical Investment Association, or unbiased.co.uk. We particularly love the guys at CastlefieldInvesting Ethically and Parkhouse.