Global survey shows that impact investors and staff are motivated by positive mission-driven organizations

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The 2019 Annual Impact Investor Survey, by the Global Impact Investors Network (GINN) presented insights on 266 of the world’s leading impact investors.

The survey provides information on asset allocations, performance, impact measurement and management, and trends analysis over the past years.

An overview of some key characteristics of this sample follows below. Most of the 266 respondents identified as fund managers, of which 51% were for-profit and 13% were not-for-profit.

The practice of impact investing is defined by investors’ deliberate pursuit of positive, measurable social or environmental impact. 80% of respondents indicated that desire to work for a mission-driven organization motivates their staff, and 79% indicated their staff is interested in aligning their careers with their personal values.

At the organizational level, respondents make impact investments because they are part of their commitment as responsible investors (85%) and because intentionally pursuing impact is central to their mission (84%).

Nearly all impact investors measure and manage their impact (98%), typically using a mix of qualitative information, proprietary metrics, and metrics aligned to IRIS or other standard frameworks.

One of the key findings is the popularity of SDG goals as an investment driver. More than 60% of investors specifically track their investment performance to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs), driven by a desire to integrate into a global development mission.

Respondent organizations target a range of impact themes aligned to the SDGs, most commonly decent work and economic growth (73%), no poverty (61%), reduced inequalities (59%), and good health and well-being (58%).

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The impact investing industry continues to welcome new entrants into the market. Nearly three-fifths of all respondents entered the market over the last ten years, and nearly a quarter made their first impact investment within the last five years.

Investors may make both direct investments into companies or other projects and indirect investments into fund managers or other intermediaries that manage capital. Overall in the sample, 72% of AUM was invested directly, while 21% was invested indirectly.

There is variation by organization type on the proportion of capital invested directly and indirectly. Excluding outliers, permanent investment companies, as well as for-profit fund managers, allocated the greatest proportion of their assets directly (96% and 86%, respectively).

Family offices and foundations allocated more evenly, with family offices investing 57% of their AUM directly, and foundations allocating 46% directly. On the other hand, 98% of pension funds’ capital was allocated indirectly, and 76% of bank capital.

Learn about how investors are already taking action in the 2019 GIIN’s Roadmap for the Future of Impact Investing. 

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