What is impact investing? 

Investments made into companies, organizations, or funds with the intention to generate a financial return alongside a social, environmental, governance, faith-based, or other non-financial return.

Impact investments can be made across asset classes in both emerging and developed markets, and target a range of returns from below market to market rate, depending on investors' strategic goals. 

For a slightly longer introduction, check out this blog post

Thought leadership

  1. The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) is one of the leading organizations in the world working to grow the scale and efficacy of impact investing. They produce a wide range of in-depth research on the industry, provide resources and tools for stakeholders, convene events and training programs, and help bring order to this fast-growing marketplace.

  2. Toniic Institute is the global action community for impact investors. With members in more than 20 countries, Toniic’s mission is to empower impact investors toward the realization of a global financial system that creates positive social and environmental impact.

  3. ImpactAlpha. A great source for news, updates, trends, and cutting-edge information on impact investing.

  4. The Stanford Social Innovation Review’s (SSIR) impact investing section

Research, reports, & news

  1. 2019 Annual Impact Investor Survey from GIIN, estimating the impact investment market to be $502 billion.

  2. A glossary of terms for all things impact investing, from The Phillips Foundation Impact Investing Think Tank.

  3. Research on the financial performance of impact investments (GIIN)

  4. A report on the importance of responsible exits from equity impact investments (GIIN)

  5. The State of Impact Measurement and Management Practice (GIIN)

  6. The role of impact investing in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (GIIN)

  7. Marginalized Returns. A thoughtful piece from SSIR positing that the majority impact investments don’t deliver market-rate returns.

  8. The Landscape for Christian Investing: A Brief Introduction. A short booklet exploring the socially responsible and impact investing marketplace through a Christian lens, with specific examples and practitioners.

Investor tools

  1. Impact Base. The Global Impact Investing Network’s (GIIN) searchable, online database of impact investment funds and products designed for investors.

  2. ImpactSpace. A searchable database of impact companies, investors, deals, services, and people.

  3. ImpactAssets 50. An annually updated, searchable database of 50 top impact funds and fund managers, able to be searched along a range of filters to fit your investment profile.

  4. Impact Investing Network Map (from the Case Foundation). An informational aid to help map the existing impact investing landscape.

  5. Crunchbase. A database of impact investment companies, funds, news, and trends.

  6. Calvert Impact Capital's Community Investment Note, through which you can direct impact capital toward community development projects around the world for as little as $20.

For foundations and charitable investors

  1. The Impact Investing Guidebook for Foundations, from Purpose Capital in Canada.

  2. Impact Foundation and their Impact Marketplace. A Christian donor-advised fund (DAF) vehicle through which you can receive the tax benefit of charity, then deploy your charitable DAF funds to for-profit impact projects. Returns then cycle back into your DAF, allowing you to re-invest that capital in other impact investments or donate proceeds to charity.

  3. ImpactAssets. The same DAF model as above, but not specific to Christian impact investments.

Impact measurement tools

  1. IRIS+ (Impact Reporting and Investment Standards) is the catalog of generally accepted performance metrics that leading impact investors use to measure social, environmental, and financial success, evaluate deals, and grow the sector’s credibility. It is an initiative of the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), and both GIIRS and BIA below use IRIS metrics in their methodology.

  2. GIIRS (Global Impact Investing Rating System) is a ratings system that provides social and environmental performance ratings of companies and funds using an approach analogous to Morningstar investment rankings.

  3. The B Impact Assessment (BIA) is an online tool that assesses a company’s overall social and environmental performance by measuring the impact of a business on all stakeholders. It is a free, confidential service administered by the non-profit organization B Lab.

  4. iPAR is an impact measurement platform assessing projects by theme and geography, employing IRIS metrics.