The anti-apartheid divestment movement was successful, in large part, because it engaged people far beyond students in the fight. We’re going to need non-students supporting the campus divestment campaign, divesting their personal holdings in the fossil fuel industry, pressuring religious institutions and pension funds to divest their fossil fuel holdings, and supporting the campaign in a number of other important ways. And remember: divestment is only part of this fight. Whether it’s working to stop the Keystone XL pipeline or implementing clean energy solutions from the bottom up, there are lots of ways to get involved in this movement. Let’s get to work.
Supporting Campus Divestment Campaigns
Even if you’re not a student, there are lots of ways to support divestment campaigns that will be springing up on campuses across the country. Here are some ideas:
Got a young friend or family member who is currently a student? Encourage them to get involved in the campaign!
Alumni can have a powerful voice in swaying their institution to make the right call when it comes to divestment — after all, they’re counting on you to donate to the endowment! There are lots of ways that alumni can support the campus effort: writing letters to the college president, publishing ads in the alumni magazine, making public statements to the media, and donating to support a campaign on your campus.
Students aren’t the only people that make up a campus community. Professors and staff can play a crucial role in helping support a divestment effort at their institution. You can help pass a faculty resolution calling for divestment, support a student group on campus as a faculty advisor, and organize fellow staff to join the campaign.
Lots of people live near universities or colleges. Try and connect with a divestment campaign at a college near your and offer your support. Students will be organizing everything from film screenings to sit-ins and may need your help!
If our work is going to be successful, people need to hear about it! Help amplify the work of student activists across the country by sharing their stories on Facebook and Twitter, joining in key online actions, and getting your friends in the media to cover this campaign.
We’re launching this new fossil fuel divestment movement on college campuses because of the unique role that they play in our society. But as in the anti-apartheid movement, this effort will be most successful when it spreads off campus to religious institutions, city and state pension funds, and people’s own individual savings accounts. Here are some of the ways that you can help support the fossil fuel divestment movement off-campus:
Climate change is a moral issue and our religious institutions – the churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples where we worship and build community – shouldn’t be a funding the destruction of the planet. Religious institutions played a key role in the anti-apartheid movement and we’ll need them to help lead this effort as well. Check out the campus divestment section of this handbook and think about ways to apply those same lessons to your religious institution. And take a look at our website for more detailed information about how your religious community can divest quickly and responsibly.
If you have a savings account or a retirement fund, it’s likely that you’re invested in fossil fuel companies. Moving your individual money is a powerful way to deepen your own commitment to the cause while sending powerful signal to the industry itself.
As with any investment, take the time to read through all the fine print, and make sure you’re making the right financial choice for you. We’re not money managers, so before you make any decisions, make sure to talk to a professional.
*Please note that most of these funds, while marketed as “socially responsible,” still invest in fossil fuel equities. Part of this fight is pushing money managers at these firms and others to divest from fossil fuels, too.
Pension funds are some of the largest investors in the world and play a big role in shaping markets. During the anti-apartheid movement, a number of large pension funds divested from South Africa, making a huge impact. Getting big pension funds to divest will be a major effort, but you can get the conversation started now. Talk with fellow employees, learn more about your pension fund, and send letters to your fund managers urging them to consider divestment.
States and cities can also pass resolutions supporting divestment and begin transforming the funds that they manage. Learn more about the role that your state or city played in the anti-apartheid movement, talk to allies in government who can help you develop a campaign plan to get the divestment conversation started, and build a movement to turn up the heat. Our limited number of field organizers will have their hands full supporting campus divestment efforts, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get the ball rolling in your community.
We want to make fossil fuel divestment the dinner table conversation of money managers and investors everywhere. Got friends or family in the industry? Keep them up to date about our efforts and encourage them to start looking into divestment. You can also help spread the word by blogging about divestment, sharing articles and updates online, writing letters to the editor, and simply talking to your friends about the movement. Every conversation helps!
Check out our resources section for more on off-campus divestment and reinvestment.