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Putting “Impact” at the Center of Impact Investing: A Case Study of How Green Canopy Designed Its Impact Thesis

More than ever before, investors are looking to put their money where their values are. As a result, impact investing has burgeoned into an over $100 billion industry in just over ten years. But how do impact investors know whether their money is truly having a positive impact on people and the planet? How can these investors better manage their results, and use material data – both positive and negative – about social and environmental performance to maximize their impact?

This case study documents the journey of one organization, Green Canopy Homes – and its financing arm, Green Canopy Capital – toward more systematically thinking about, measuring, and managing its impact. While developing the impact thesis for its resource-efficient homes, Green Canopy applied a theory of change tool, an approach common within the social sector, to systematically map the causal pathways between its strategies and intended impact. Its rationale for adopting this approach was simple: use it to maximize impact, and understand and minimize possible harm. The tool also effectively positioned Green Canopy to measure and communicate about its social and environmental performance and to make client-centric adaptations to its business.

The case study provides an illuminating example of how investors can adapt theory of change to serve their impact management needs. By demonstrating the relevance and transferability of this tool for articulating, measuring, and managing impact, the hope is that this case study can contribute to strengthening other investors’ approaches, in turn contributing to building the evidence base for the “impact” of impact investments.