Investing That Puts Impact First

Host Organization: The Bridgespan Group


The tidal wave of attention to impact investing over the past decade has been dominated by a growing “finance first” approach which measures success by achieving market-rate returns alongside desired social or environmental change. This approach has gone mainstream and now includes institutional investors among its advocates. But there’s a lesser-known type of impact investing that puts impact first and accepts less than market-rate of returns. “Impact-first” impact investing extends a financial lifeline to enterprises unattractive to conventional investors. It measures success by social and environmental benefit, not financial return. As such, impact-first enterprises reimagine how capital is deployed in service of social good.

Among all investors, wealthy individuals and families are uniquely positioned to champion impact-first investing. In particular, as part of a broader portfolio (including philanthropy and market-rate investing) this type of impact-first investing can is well-suited for those who care about solving the world’s largest challenges like climate change, food insecurity, and racial injustice.

Our research addresses the barriers that have historically limited impact-first investing, lifts up inspiring examples of leading impact-first investors, and lays out the three step journey these pioneers have taken to lead on impact-first investing: 1) clarifying a commitment to impact and 2) relying on trusted collaborators set the stage for 3) choosing the investment options that meet your needs.

Moderated by Bridgespan Partner, Michael Etzel.
Panelists below.

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