America’s cities are home to more than 80 percent of Americans and around 85 percent of US production. They will determine the future of sustainable development in the United States. Around the US, more and more cities are signing up to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework for action.
Impact investing has existed for a substantial amount of time, but it has not been fully embraced by the investment community and, to many, is still not considered a mainstream investment practice. While there are signs that its adoption is increasing, there are several barriers, both real and perceived, that have slowed its adoption. This paper will present some of the key reasons for impact investments’ slow adoption. It will provide background on the industry and discuss specific factors causing its slow adoption. This paper will then provide several principles aimed at furthering investors’ understanding of impact.
A group representing the nation’s most powerful chief executives on Monday abandoned the idea that companies must maximize profits for shareholders above all else, a long-held belief that advocates said boosted the returns of capitalism but detractors blamed for rising inequality and other social ills. In a new statement about the purpose of the corporation, the Business Roundtable, which represents the chief executives of 192 large companies, said business leaders should commit to balancing the needs of shareholders with customers, employees, suppliers and local communities.
As a new employee on the Investor Relations team at Calvert Impact Capital, I have been learning more each day about how the work we do creates measurable change in communities. Recently, I visited North Philadelphia to see firsthand how investor dollars can be put to work for local results, visiting several projects supported by our longtime borrower, Reinvestment Fund.
What's the best way to identify the top investors in female-founded companies? To answer that question, we published a list of US-based VC firms ranked by the number of investments completed in startups with at least one female founder since 2006. But that list failed to highlight firms whose portfolios contained mostly female-founded companies.
SunTrust Bank announced this morning that they are ready to join other major banks in moving away from the private prison industry, in the wake of deep public sentiment against their role in mass incarceration and family detention. “Following an ongoing and deliberate process, SunTrust has decided not to provide future financing to companies that manage private prisons and immigration holding facilities,” said Sue Mallino, Chief Communications Officer of SunTrust Banks, Inc. “This decision was made after extensive consideration of the views of our stakeholders on this deeply complex issue.”
When we announced the PhilaImpact Fund a year ago, we noted that it was created to fill a gap, offering a safe, smart direct investment opportunity tailored specifically to the Greater Philadelphia region. Our goal was to ensure that the opportunity gaps that exist in our communities get smaller, so that every resident has a chance to thrive from possibilities born from the region’s vibrancy. The results to date have been inspiring.
With only a little over a decade left to meet the SDGs by 2030, it is crucial to maintain — or, better said, create — a stable and fair world. To accelerate our actions to achieve the Goals, we need trust. And that trust will grow when we achieve the Goals.
Local giving is a priority for the vast majority of Exponent Philanthropy members. This is probably no surprise for those of us who associate charitable giving with supporting our local nonprofits, places of worship, or community members who are in need.
Driving sustainable business practices in companies requires involvement from boards of directors. And there is some evidence that sustainability is rising up the board agenda. Many board members today have the right aspirations, but there is a substantial gap between those aspirations and the capacity of their boards and firms to deliver.
Although the Philadelphia region is home to some of the world’s finest hospitals that deliver best-in-class health care, many of our communities still suffer from the lack of access to care. Equal access to health care can be—must be—more than an aspiration; it must become a fact of life. Impact investment has the potential to help make high-quality care available to all. Let us work together to transform our best intentions into real solutions that benefit all who live in our region and in our nation.
The time is coming where we’ll look back on how we’re doing business today and marvel at how strange it was. We’re living out the last moments of a way of working and defining value that we’ll remember with disbelief. We’ll do one of those head-shaking chuckles when we think about the fact that companies once existed without a real sense of purpose — similar to when we remember using phones that were anchored to our walls.
Several years ago, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation decided to start investing portions of our multi-billion-dollar endowment with firms owned and managed by women and people of color. For our president, Alberto Ibarguen, and the board of trustees, it was morally the right thing to do, and we were confident we could execute it in a financially prudent and responsible way.
Many people know him as the Founder of Lotus Development Corporation, the designer of Lotus 1-2-3, or the Co-founder of The Electronic Frontier Foundation, but in the social impact space Mitch Kapor has become most famous for investing in seed stage tech startups that are closing gaps of access, opportunity, or outcome for low-income communities and communities of color in the US.
What is the definition of Impact Investing? At its core, impact investing is about deploying capital with the intent to bring about some socially desirable outcome with the expectation of a financial return. There are two key elements: 1. An Investment with the Intention to Do Good. 2. An expectation of Financial Returns.
The 2nd annual conference — hosted by ImpactPHL + Good Capital Project — covered themes from public equity ESG integration to racial equity to Opportunity Zone investments. Read the recap!
Foundations command a combined $900 billion in the U.S., and more than $1.5 trillion globally. No other class of asset owners should be more predisposed to move “beyond trade-offs” than philanthropies, which have a legal mandate and tax obligation to benefit society, as well as a presumably charitable original intent.
In recent years, there has been a quiet revolution taking shape across our economy. A growing movement led by passionate pioneers out to change the world has been slowly but surely expanding. A growing chorus of fearless leaders have been championing the idea that businesses can be a powerful tool for social good, beyond the jobs that they create, while also retaining a focus on profit and growth. And the markets have responded.
ESG investing — short for “environmental, social, and governance” — is a once-fringe idea that’s now mainstream on Wall Street.
In the United States, eighty-seven thousand foundations collectively own approximately $800 billion in assets. Each year, these foundations - financial institutions established for the public good - have a federal obligation to give just 5% of those assets toward achieving their mission. The remaining 95% of assets are traditionally invested in Wall Street, to preserve and grow the foundation's endowment and, consequently, ensure their capacity for philanthropic giving in perpetuity. In other words: foundations generally invest 5% for mission-first outcomes and 95% for finance-first outcomes. It is my resolute belief that challenging and changing this status-quo is not only philanthropy’s greatest 21st-century opportunity but our most critical obligation.
Impact investments from donor-advised funds helped seed the growth of Beyond Meat, the plant-based meat company that staged a successful public offering earlier this month. Commercial real-estate investor Mark Van Ness, and Honest Tea’s Seth Goldman, now executive chair at Beyond Meat, invested in the company from their donor-advised funds, tax-advantaged accounts originally designed for grant-making.
Values-aligned investing is called by many different names, which are commonly misused or misunderstood by investors. Let me decode the lingo, because a shared understanding of the terminology makes this type of investing more accessible to advisors and investors alike. Please note that there are no universally agreed upon definitions among professionals, and everyone uses the words a bit differently. After 15 years of working in this space, this is how I define the most commonly used terms.
Financial Advisors are transforming themselves into “agents of impact” in order to deepen their relationships with existing clients, build their book of business – or stay in business at all.
Mayor de Blasio today announced New York City's Green New Deal, a bold and audacious plan to attack global warming on all fronts. It is comprised of $14 billion in new and committed investments, legislation and concrete action at the City level that will ensure a nearly 30 percent additional reduction in emissions by 2030. The laws and investments of New York City's Green New Deal will directly confront income inequality, generating tens of thousands of good-paying jobs retrofitting buildings and expanding renewable energy.
Drexel University has taken on a mission as an engaged anchor institution with a substantial role and set of responsibilities in the life and local economy of West Philadelphia. One of our key strategies is to integrate this outward-looking perspective into our core academic functions through comprehensive supports for civic engagement. The Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, part of Drexel’s Office of University and Community Partnerships, offers a hub for doing academically rigorous work that is creative, collaborative, responsive to the needs and interests articulated by residents and neighborhood stakeholders, and generates benefits for both students and residents.
After years of targeted actions by everyday activists and concerned shareholders, JPMorgan Chase announced early this morning that they will stop financing GEO Group and CoreCivic — the largest operators of private prisons and immigrant detention centers in the U.S. This is a big win for the world of corporate accountability; one that many believe wouldn’t have been possible without hundreds of thousands of people nationally demanding change in the wake of growing concern over family detention. It also calls into question the financial viability of the private prison industry, which has come under fire both by activists and financial analysts.
Laundry isn’t a life-changing experience. But when Gabriel Mandujano founded Philadelphia-based Wash Cycle Laundry in 2010, he set out to make it just that. Commercial laundry — literal dirty work — isn’t hip or high-tech. Most of the time, commercial laundry services are outsourced to cut costs; in Philadelphia, Mandujano notes, laundry from hotels, hospitals, and universities is trucked 50 miles or more to rural Maryland or northern New Jersey. The work also isn’t sexy or particularly lucrative. It can be monotonous, and most employees are paid less than $10 an hour, according to PayScale, which tracks compensation among 7,000 companies.
Investments into Opportunity Funds offer attractive tax benefits, while catalyzing capital inflows into economically distressed communities. However, prudence is necessary in evaluating these investment opportunities as they come to market. The tax benefits will not outweigh the negative consequences of a bad investment. Moreover, large numbers of investment opportunities have not yet materialized. While the initial round of IRS guidance has answered some questions, additional information, expected shortly, is necessary, and then firms will need time to evaluate and identify qualified investment opportunities before launching investment funds. Currently we assume that there will be Funds available for investment in 2019. While questions remain, Opportunity Zones offer an exciting space to monitor and evaluate for tax-sensitive and impact investors.