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Dreyfus Third Century Fund

Founded in 1972 by Howard Stein, Third Century was the second screened fund and the first from a major financial player. Few traditional firms have followed in Dreyfus's footsteps, but Third Century has, through the years, shown a consistent rate of return— last year's return was 30.17 percent, the three-year rate stands at 36.45 percent, and the five-year is 32.63 percent.

Jon Conrad

The fund concerns itself primarily with environmental and consumer protection, occupational health and safety, and equal-employment opportunities. A large-cap, actively managed equity fund, Third Century holds Sun Microsystems, Fannie Mae, Clorox, Compac, and Merck, among others. Requiring an initial investment of $2500, Third Century handles more than $1 billion in assets.

Although Third Century does not file shareholder resolutions with the companies in its portfolio, it has actively supported the resolutions filed by other shareholders. "We try to dialogue with companies about social and environmental practices," says Paul Hilton, portfolio manager at Third Century. "Dreyfus handles more than $110 billion and we feel that is an advantage when Third Century calls on companies to review their practices."


  • No-load No sales charge (load) added by the mutual fund company when you buy or sell the fund.

  • Equity fund Invests primarily in stocks.

  • Index fund Invests in stocks that make up an index. For example, the Domini Index fund invests in the 400 stocks that make up the Domini 400 Social Index.

  • Actively managed Fund that is handled by a manager who makes investment decisions, as

    opposed to a passively managed

    fund like an index fund.

  • Balanced fund Has investment policy of balancing a fund's portfolio with fixed-income securities like bonds. Usually considered lower-risk.

  • Growth fund Invests in the stocks of well-established firms that are expected to grow for years to come.

  • Large-cap Invests in the largest companies, including blue chips, with higher revenues and market capitalization (value of corporation determined by market price), usually more than $11 billion (e.g.

    Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson).

  • Mid-cap Invests in midsize companies with a market capitalization between $1.3 and $11 billion (e.g. Apple, McGraw Hill).

  • Morningstar rating The most used rating system for mutual funds. Morningstar is an

    independent company that ranks

    funds based on risk and return. A five-star rating means that the

    fund is in the top 10 percent of its category. A one-star rating is the bottom 5 percent.

  • Co-op America has been working since 1982 to harness money for environmental and social change. Includes links to pages dealing with sweatshop labor, environmental concerns, and companies currently being boycotted.

  • The Social Investment Forum home page, a national organization dedicated to SRI, works with investors, educators, researchers, and foundations.

  • A newsletter that focuses on promoting socially responsible business practices, investments, and consumer resources.

  • Home page of Morningstar, offering financial information.

  • Mutual Funds Magazine home page.
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