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Resources created and curated to support the growth of impact investing, for those new to the field and for experienced practitioners.

The Importance of Resources and Communities of Practice

The infrastructure to support the growth of impact investing, including intermediaries, associations, common language, and reporting standards, is in constant development to enable firms to attract and deploy an increasing flow of capital towards social impact in the most effective ways.  When we asked ImpactAssets 50 2013 fund managers about the resources that they have utilized in developing their impact reporting, the response was enthusiastic and varied.  Fund managers are actively seeking advice and communities of practice to inform their impact reporting, but often from very different sources.  Some managers listed associations that they have joined, others noted influential articles that inform their thinking, some issue-specific funds rely on established leaders and standards in those communities, and many are engaging with the infrastructure that is being developed specifically for impact investing.

Incofin IM, which has developed custom social performance standards, participates in a variety of industry-wide initiatives to ensure cohesion with the field:

·         Smart Campaign Participant: This initiative promotes six principles for protecting the (final) microfinance customer (Client Protection Principles).

·         Principles for Investors in Inclusive Finance (PIIF) Founding Signatory: The PIIF-principles promote the idea that social affairs, environmental aspects and good governance can influence the results of investments.

·         Social Performance Task Force (SPTF) Steering Committee Member: SPTF defines social performance and functions as a platform for promoting and investigating social performance in the sector; consists of 850 microfinance leaders. 

Fund managers that prioritize metrics specific to their issue area align themselves with the established standards for that sector.  For example, Habitat for Humanity has consulted research and frameworks from The Urban Institute, as well as Success Measures at NeighborWorks which focuses on effective measurement of outcomes for community development. Medical Credit Fund, which provides financing to healthcare providers in the developing world, has developed their impact reporting based off of the SafeCare Standards which were specifically designed for healthcare in resource restricted environments.

 

Multiple fund managers referenced the Global Impact Investment Network (GIIN), and the affiliated Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS) as key resources in developing their impact reporting.  They also noted social innovation and international development sources, a sampling of which is listed here:

·         Articles, Research Papers

·   Evaluating the Impact of Development Projects on Poverty (The World Bank, 2000)

·   Banerjee and Duflo: The Economic Lives of the Poor (Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2007

·   Using Randomization in Development Economics (2006)

·   Measuring Social Value, Geoff Mulgan, Stanford Social Innovation Review, 2010

·   Simple Measures for Social Enterprise, Brian Trelstad, innovations, 2008

·         Organizations

·   Stanford Social Innovation Review - http://www.ssireview.org/

·   CGAP - http://www.cgap.org/

·   GIIN/IRIS - http://www.thegiin.org/cgi-bin/iowa/home/index.html

·   Social Finance - http://www.socialfinance.org.uk/about/vision

·   SOCAP - http://socialcapitalmarkets.net/

·   Mix market – http://www.mixmarket.org/

·   SEEP Network - http://www.seepnetwork.org/

·   Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) - http://www.aspeninstitute.org/policy-work/aspen-network-development-entrepreneurs

·   Research institutions: School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University and the Institute of Applied Media Studies at Zurich University of Applied Sciences.

While there are many existing resources for impact reporting, fund managers still express a need for more standardization and development of best practices. Each fund manager’s individual efforts to improve and communicate their practices for impact reporting adds to the collective knowledge and practice of the larger community.  ImpactAssets will continue to collect, share, and promote examples of impact reporting, as well as insights, resources and challenges from the field.

 

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Impact investments are investments made into organizations and funds that generate measurable social and environmental impact as well as financial returns.