Over the past year, the Beeck Center has been a leading voice in the rapid expansion of Impact Investing. What is Impact Investing? It’s where investors intentionally choose their investments to achieve social or environmental benefits alongside a financial return. Impact investments are now driving ever-increasing financial resources into a broad spectrum of social enterprises, B-Corporations, social impact funds, and other vehicles established to achieve social and investment goals simultaneously. These investments include public health and housing, new environmental technologies, mobile banking for the “unbanked,” early childhood education, and many other critical areas of need, both domestically and globally. Impact investment reaches across sectors and disciplines, and involves policy makers, investors, academics, leading practitioners, entrepreneurs, and enterprising nonprofits.
The Center is actively engaged in policy-focused activity to move the impact investing sector forward. The Center has helped lead ongoing policymaker engagement at the federal, state and local levels to allow managers of pension funds and other massive pools of capital to consider environmental and social factors when they make investment decisions. The Center is also working with leading foundations, private sector banks, investment advisors, and others to find new ways for the government leaders, citizens, and representatives of the investment community to communicate and work with each other to build scalable solutions to pressing social and environmental challenges.
The Center has also been actively engaged in policy for impact investing. I was very engaged in developing the policy recommendation for the U.S. National Advisory Board for Impact Investing and the policy recommendations. The Center has been actively work with policy makers on the policy changes. We are thrilled that the Department of Treasury recently issued guidance clarifying foundation’s ability to make investments furthering their charitable purposes. The topline message is that private foundation managers may consider the relationship between a particular investment and the foundation’s charitable purpose when exercising ordinary business care and prudence in deciding whether to make the investment. This has the potential to unlock significant capital from foundation endowments and we are glad to see the government taking leadership. We will continue to work with policy makers on implementing the other recommendations.
In the coming months, we also will publish a paper on ways in which America’s corporate sector can more effectively include environmental and social considerations when identifying their next round of business opportunities. We’ll also roll out a series of practitioner-focused classes and training sessions to help build the next generation of impact investment experts. We will convene an ongoing series of discussions of the fundamental ways in which values, citizen engagement, technology, and private-sector business activity can combine to create broad and sustainable social change. Stay tuned for the many ways in which you can participate, learn, and help bring about meaningful social change.