Never Vanguard

What is the Never Vanguard Pledge?

Vanguard is the world’s #1 investor in fossil fuels, which are destroying our climate and communities. To get this huge asset manager to change, we’ve written letters, made phone calls, delivered petitions, and asked company leadership to meet with us to hear our concerns. We’ve even gotten arrested at Vanguard headquarters and prayed outside the CEO’s house. 

We can’t continue to put our trust or our savings in a company that is on this reckless course. It’s time to pledge Never Vanguard, together. 

The Never Vanguard pledge is for anyone willing to take a stand against corporate greed. For some, signing the pledge will be a commitment to move savings invested with the asset manager or in its funds. For others, pledging will mean promising not to work for Vanguard, or publicizing the negative effects of its investments on social media or in an op-ed. As you answer the questions below, you will be directed to different options based on your situation. If you have already moved money out of Vanguard or its funds due to environmental or climate concerns, please let us know how much you moved so we can count you as part of our collective total. 

While moving money or refusing to work for Vanguard can be individual acts of integrity, such actions become much more powerful when we take them publicly and collectively. Please join us by pledging Never Vanguard below! You can also read answers to frequently asked questions at the bottom of this page. 

A cartoon of an iceberg, most of which is underwater, and with a small red flag that says "S.O.S." on top. To the right, there's a dotted line at the water level that is labeled as $22,000,000.
So far, we have moved $22 million out of Vanguard! EQAT sees the amount of money we’ve moved so far as “just the tip of the iceberg.” We know there are many, many more people who don’t want to profit off of climate catastrophe. If Vanguard stays on its current course, it will find that customer dissatisfaction runs deeper than initially apparent. (This image is updated quarterly.)

Frequently Asked Questions

No! Whether we are saving for retirement or barely making ends meet, we all want our families to thrive. That means we all have a stake in steering Vanguard away from climate destruction. We are already seeing more floods and heat waves. We know these climate changes will wipe out lives as well as life savings. By joining together – people from different generations, faiths, and means – we can achieve a future with clean air, clean water, and a liveable planet for all of us, no exceptions.

While many of the questions below focus on moving money, EQAT plans to continue bold direct action, and everyone is invited to join us in action! When you sign the pledge, we’ll keep you updated with ways to be involved.

In May 2023, Bloomberg reported that the number of funds that exclude fossil fuels “has exploded” because customers like you are demanding them. Although it’s hard to find funds that are truly climate friendly – because of all the other industries that contribute to carbon emissions – getting out of fossil fuels is an important step.

We know choosing a new fund can be intimidating. That’s why the organization As You Sow has compiled a list of the top fossil free funds. Green America has put together a resource on both funds and asset managers. EQAT will also be offering a few webinars where we’ll show you how to use these tools, and participants will have the chance to share additional resources with each other. See our Events page to register for our next webinar.

While we are happy to share resources compiled by the above organizations, we want to make clear that Earth Quaker Action Team is not an investment adviser as that term is defined under federal and state laws and regulations. We do not provide financial planning, legal, or tax advice. Nothing we share shall constitute or be construed as an offering of financial instruments, or as investment advice or investment recommendations.

We know our actions make a bigger difference when we do them together. After you’ve moved money out of Vanguard, please let us know how much so we can include your funds in our collective total. To share that info, you can fill out the above form again as someone who has already moved money, or you can email us at info@eqat.org. We will protect your individual privacy while publicly celebrating our collective total.

We are not financial advisors, and thus can’t can’t tell you about your individual situation or provide investment advice or recommendations. However, here are a few general things for you to consider or discuss with your financial advisor, if you have one: 

Is your money in a Roth IRA, Traditional IRA, 401(k), 403(b), or other retirement plan? If so, rolling it over to a different asset manager or into non-Vanguard funds should not cost you in taxes or fines, as long as you keep the money in that category of retirement account. Please be careful that you don’t accidentally withdraw retirement funds because that can cost you.

Have you made a profit from investments that are not in an IRA, 401(k), 403(b), or other retirement account? If so, and depending on the amount and your tax bracket, you may owe capital gains tax. One way to reduce tax liability is to roll those funds directly into a donor advised fund and use the money for charitable donations. Again, speak to an investment professional if this might be applicable to you.  

Finally, you may wonder if moving your money means giving up future profit. This, of course, will depend on many variables, but many analysts believe that fossil fuels are bad investments in the long term, which is what most people invest for. Although the war in Ukraine helped to spike Exxon’s profits in 2022, we also saw the risk of fossil fuel investments when Adani, a major global coal company, had its share price crash in 2022.

Yes! We understand that this might not be the right time for you to move money, but you can still make a difference. As a customer, you can tell Vanguard your concerns about climate catastrophe and the related destruction that Vanguard invests in, such as pollution and deforestation. It’s important that Vanguard leadership continue to hear these concerns from customers, even as other customers start moving their money. Together, these two groups increase the pressure! If you can honestly tell them you are thinking of moving your money, so much the better.

If you can’t move your funds because your current employer chose Vanguard for your retirement plan, please raise this issue with your HR department, or better yet, do so along with your colleagues. If companies, universities, and other institutions start telling Vanguard that their employees are dissatisfied with Vanguard’s climate inaction, that will greatly add to the pressure for Vanguard to act. For tips on how to raise these issues with your employer, check out WorkforClimate or Carbon Collective.

EQAT sees our money moving strategy as just the tip of the iceberg. We know there are Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Unitarians, and many other people of faith – not to mention grandparents, doctors, union members, and lots of other constituencies – who recognize that climate change is killing people now. We are embarking on this strategy, trusting that we will not be alone in telling Vanguard that we’ve had enough of business as usual.

People moving money collectively and publicly is impactful because it damages Vanguard’s carefully crafted brand. Vanguard’s PR team has portrayed it as a company that cares about the little guy, but Vanguard leaders refuse to use their immense proxy voting power to confront big guys like Exxon and Chevron, which are threatening us all. Vanguard claims to put its customers first, but by its own admission, climate change presents a material risk to the whole economy and therefore to its own customers, especially its younger customers. When young people – who generally care about avoiding climate catastrophe – pledge to never work for Vanguard or put their savings in Vanguard, that threatens the company’s future business. This, combined with publicizing why we are moving money and continuing to take bold action, will add up to a level of pressure that no one tactic would create alone.

We understand why some groups are taking this approach, but here’s the problem: as of February 2023, less than 0.5% of Vanguard’s assets under management were invested in ESG funds (investment funds using environmental, social, and governance criteria to screen out certain companies). Making customers go out of their way to find and choose ESG funds has led to only marginal amounts of money being invested this way, and a continuation of the status quo. Furthermore, many ESG funds are not what they seem and can include fossil fuels, fossil fuel finance and insurance, and other destructive industries, like incineration. You can look up if your current funds are fossil free.

As more and more customers look for sustainable funds, and move their investments when they don’t find them, all asset managers will start to get the message and create more options. Because Vanguard is the world’s #1 investor in fossil fuels, with one of the worst shareholder proxy records, that means that almost any asset manager you choose will be better.

The phrase “Never Vanguard” expresses the moral line we are drawing in the sand. If Vanguard makes a serious course correction – using its power to pressure the Exxons of the world to stop destroying the climate that sustains life on Earth, and if Vanguard pledges to stop investing in companies that refuse to change – we would be happy to retire this pledge.

Although EQAT’s focus is on shifting Vanguard in a targeted way, we know that some members of our community are considering alternatives to reinvestment in the stock market, which is based on a model of endless growth. Acknowledging that members of this campaign span a range of economic means, identities, ideologies, and leadings, we offer a few resources below to spur your own discernment. We also encourage you to build relationships with local projects in your area doing this kind of work. 

The Grassroot Reparations Campaign uplifts “faith-based and ethically-centered frameworks that demand accountability for the history and current world conditions that slavery, colonialism, genocide, and other material and moral abuses created.” The case for reparations for slavery is written specifically for white families wanting to engage in repair. This article identifies several groups working on climate reparations in response to the disproportionate burden climate catastrophe is putting on the Global South.

For young people with inherited wealth, Resource Generation offers many resources. So does the Next Egg, such as a webinar on Community Investment Funds, as an alternative to profit-driven investment. Solidarity Economy’s map encourages people to find community institutions to invest in.