Impact Investing is a term that has a wide range of interpretations. In order to have credibility, consistency and clear understanding about what constitutes success in impact investing it’s important to have a clear set of metrics to understand the social, environmental and economic impacts of impact investments.
Impact is Big Business
The impact investing industry is growing fast with over a trillion dollars of investment over the next decade according to JP Morgan research reported in Business Ethics magazine. Funds that are investing for others find more and more reasons that they need to have clear metrics to demonstrate that they are carrying out the mission of the investors. While each fund may develop their own metrics individually, there are huge benefits to utilizing an agreed upon set of metrics across the industry to allow for apples-to-apples comparisons among funds.
Using standardized metrics provides a framework in which larger and larger amounts of investment can be made by sophisticated funds. The result of this is that impact investing funds can eclipse philanthropic efforts in improving health, education, environment and quality of life for underserved markets. There will always be a place for philanthropy, but research has shown many for-profit organizations have been able to bring greater impact with greater long term sustainability than those non-profits that provide one-time support.
While individual impact investors don’t have concerns about accountability or credibility, they should also be using metrics to help them understand and evaluate the deals that they are considering and to be able to hone their investing strategies to balance financial and social/environmental outcomes. Individuals will want to understand their investing goals, but will also want to be able to select impact investments that match and support their own values.
Global Impact Investing Ratings
In 2011 B Labs worked with over 200 impact investing funds to create GIIRS (pronounced “gears”), the Global Impact Investing Ratings System and its IRIS Registry for impact funds. Since then, GIIRS has become the defacto standard for measuring social and environmental impact on investments that are clear and verifiable by third parties. Impact companies that want to know how they’re doing can take a free impact assessment provided by B Labs that will let them know how they are doing and to test their future strategies against industry benchmarks. The ability to compare each company’s results based on standardized measures opens up huge new opportunities for B Corporations and for funds alike. Just as having standardized GAAP accounting guidelines makes investment analysis for public companies efficient, having the GIIRS standard opens the door for large scale investment in impact companies.
Rockies Venture Club Impact Investing
To learn more about B corporations and hear pitches from active impact companies, , consider attending the RVC Impact Investing event Tuesday, December 10th 5:00-7:30PM at the Colorado State University Denver Center Event Atrium 475 17th Street, Suite 200 Denver, CO. Click Here to Register