The concept and the practice of Impact Investing—or the placement of capital with intent to generate positive social impact beyond financial return—have grown and matured significantly over the past five years. In 2008, the Monitor Institute took stock of the emerging industry and characterized it as being on the precipice of passing from a stage of “uncoordinated innovation” into one of “marketplace building.” Since 2008, the Rockefeller Foundation has sought to help build that marketplace as well as hold it accountable for its social and environmental impact goals. We have helped to build networks, develop social impact ratings and reporting standards, cultivate new and larger intermediaries and contribute to research and enabling policy environments. “Industry building” is not often the remit of foundations, but our rationale for doing so was clear: a functioning impact investing industry has the potential to complement government and philanthropy by unlocking significant resources to address the world’s most pressing problems and to improve the lives of poor and vulnerable people.
Four years later, and as part of our commitment to learning and accountability within the Foundation and to our partners and stakeholders, we undertook an independent evaluation of our work in this arena. In March 2012, we presented to our Board the results of this evaluation, undertaken by E.T. Jackson and Associates. It highlighted a number of early successes and remaining challenges, many of which will shape our activities in the months and years to come. As part of its evaluation, E.T. Jackson also undertook a global scan of impact investing activity over the past four years so that we could assess our progress in relation to the evolution of the broader field. We believe the results of the scan will also be informative for a number of other current and future industry participants, and we are proud to contribute it to the growing body of evaluative knowledge and research in this field.
It is clear from our evaluation and scan, and from the growing body of research on impact investing, that there exists great momentum and inspiring leadership in this dynamic field. More significantly, there are promising signs here that together we can play an important role in bringing about a more sustainable, resilient and equitable future for humankind. We are honored to work with all of you on this journey.