6 Novel Investing Tools to Make Money and Make a Difference

6 Novel Investing Tools to Make Money and Make a Difference
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If you’re ready to start investing, you could go to a traditional brokerage firm and put money in a mutual fund. That’s a predictable and relatively safe way to watch your money grow. It’s also incredibly boring.

For investment options with a bit more flair, head off the beaten path. There are several platforms that let you put your money into real estate, socially conscious causes or even everyday people.

These investment options can reap substantial rewards, but they aren’t risk-free. Fortunately, we have all the details listed below so you can make an informed decision about using these services.

To do something different with your money, consider using one of the following novel investment tools:

Swell Investing

What’s your passion? Is it eliminating poverty, achieving gender equality or something else? There’s a good chance that regardless of what cause is dear to your heart, Swell can help you find and invest in businesses that are championing it.

Swell Investing, which is technically a registered investment adviser, offers investments only in companies that align with at least one of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Swell screens out exploitative industries and promotes transparency on its socially responsible investment platform.

These are investments you can feel good about while also earning significant gains. For instance, Swell’s Renewable Energy portfolio has seen 38.11% growth since its inception in 2016, with similar gains in its Green Tech, Healthy Living and Disease Eradication portfolios over the same time period.

You can select from portfolios designed around a certain cause or choose Swell’s Impact 400, which combines businesses across sectors. You can choose from a brokerage account or individual retirement account.

Swell charges an “all-inclusive” 0.75% annual fee. There are no trading costs or price tiers. The minimum account value is $50.

Visit Swell’s website to learn more or get started.


Real estate is often touted as a good way to diversify investments, but it has traditionally been out of reach for many smaller investors. Fundrise has worked out a way to make real estate investing accessible to everyone.

You only need $500 to be a part of multimillion-dollar projects. That money then gets placed into eFunds and eREITs — basically, residential and commercial real estate portfolios that generally pay out dividends — as we detail in “How to Start Investing in Real Estate With as Little as $500.”

From 2014 to 2018, Fundrise investors had average annualized returns of 8.76% to 12.42%.

The company generally charges a 1% annual fee and an upfront asset acquisition fee of 0% to 2%.

Visit Fundrise’s website to learn more or get started.


One low-risk way to make more on your savings than you can through a traditional savings account — and help build your community at the same time — is through Worthy Bonds. And you can get started with as small an investment as $10. A separate post explains all the details, but here’s the gist of it:

You buy 36-month Worthy Bonds for just $10 each. Your money is loaned to small businesses through a peer-to-peer system, also known as P2P lending. Small-business owners using this system gain access to capital, and you earn 5% on your investment.

Visit Worthy’s website to learn more or get started.


Prosper is a peer-to-peer lending platform. That means that if you invest here, your money isn’t going to buy shares in a corporation. Instead, your money is combined with that of other investors to provide personal loans to individuals who need to consolidate debt, buy a car or otherwise gain access to cash.

Investors on the platform get to choose which loans they fund. Prosper rates loans, from “AA” for lower-risk, low-reward loans to “HR” for higher-risk, higher-reward lending opportunities. Historic returns on investments average 5.3% after fees.

You need to commit at least $25 to each loan you want to fund on Prosper.

Visit Prosper’s website to learn more or get started.


As another peer-to-peer lending platform, LendingClub is way to make money while helping out families who need cash to consolidate their debt or make a major purchase.

Loans on LendingClub are rated, from “A” for lower-risk investments with lower interest rates to “E” for higher risk and higher interest rates. Average historic returns range from 3% to 8% after service fees. You need to deposit $1,000 to open an account.

Visit LendingClub’s website to learn more about it or get started.


If you’re not ready to take the plunge using one of the investment platforms above, Wealthramp may be the right tool for you. It essentially serves as a matchmaker between investors and financial advisers.

You answer a few questions, and Wealthramp matches you to vetted independent advisers who fit your preferences. Users have the opportunity to review professional backgrounds and request an introduction with anyone who looks like a good fit.

Wealthramp only matches people to fiduciaries — professionals who are required to work in your best interests — so you can be sure you won’t be sent to a salesperson angling for a commission. There is no cost to investors to use Wealthramp.

Visit Wealthramp’s website to learn more or to get started.

Have you ever tried any of these platforms? Share your experience by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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