Earlier, I stumbled upon this interesting piece from Forbes. It consists of a group of panelists pontificating about whether or not it's wise for mutual funds to use part of their management fees to donate to charity. The article first provides an introduction to the topic before moving onto panelists. In that intro, it explains the heart of the question:
But then, an investor has to ask--if 50% of the profits are going to charitable causes, why not forgo the charitable giving and cut fees instead?
The article goes on to explain that most of the mutual funds that use management fees for charity have artificially higher fees as a result. Obviously, the portfolio managers still want to get paid.
The panelists have some good insight to add, so check that out. But I'm kind of sympathetic to the "What's the point?" response. If I want to give money to charity, then I can do so myself. I certainly don't need to rely on a mutual fund to do it for me. I'd also prefer to have the power over which charities get my money. As a result, I'd gravitate towards the old-fashioned mutual funds that focus on investing my money, rather than giving it to the poor.
Yet, maybe some consumers like that some mutual funds provide this service. After all, not having to give to charity because your mutual fund already does it for you means one less thing to worry about. Many people who like mutual funds don't really want to be bothered with the time it takes to develop a well-diversified investment portfolio. That's why they invested in a mutual fund. So maybe the same audience doesn't want to bother figuring out what charities to give to either.
Still, it's not for me. But let me know when they come out with a mutual fund that uses part of the management fee to hire a maid service to clean its investors' apartments. Then, I'm in.