Stock options for the poor?

The Brazilian Catholic church has apparently decided the best way to reach rich people is to talk to them in terms they understand. Instead of asking the well-to-do to give to the poor, it’s asking them to invest in them.

According to ADBUSTERS, the church is offering stock in its Banco da Providencia (Bank of Providence), which funds programs for orphans, alcoholics, and ex-convicts in Rio. Shareholders will receive “social dividends”, which are reports telling them in detail about the good works they’re helping to support.

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So if “investors” give money and get nothing in return but a nice warm glow, how is it different from a donation? It’s not, really — the church simply hopes the unique packaging will reach a different kind of donor. And, since this is the finance world it’s hitting up here, as opposed to the usual little old ladies, they’re aiming for more than small change — the church is putting $604 million worth of stock up for sale.