Field Notes: Scaling Impact

Today we’re reading about how enterprises can scale their impact through better principles and better conversation.


On Institutional Investor, Ashby Monk gives six principles for generating social change and returns in response to what he perceives is a weak and confused impact investing industry. Below, he summarizes the reasoning behind why we at Heron are completely examining our entire portfolio:

Every investment – every single one – has an impact of some form or another on somebody or something. All investing is impact investing; it’s just a matter of understanding what that impact is, where the attribution lies and how certain types of impacts can be prioritized over others. (Are you part of the Rebel Alliance? Or are you working for the Empire?)

In the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Year Up’s Gerald Chertavian exhorts fellow enterprises to stop worrying about getting credit, saying that in order to scale real impact, the conversation needs to look a lot different:

For Year Up to reach transformative scale, we need to catalyze a broad employer movement for wider talent pipelines—one that goes far beyond our own enterprise’s growth. It’s a fundamentally different bet on impact than we’re used to. If we’re ultimately successful in our work, the vast majority of those who benefit from it will never have heard of us.

All of us in the social enterprise sector need to change the bets we’re making. The very data we (funders included) use to evaluate the success of our work is a statement on how we have constrained our thinking about scale. In theory, we all say we care most about the greater movement, but a close look at our metrics shows that our primary concerns are usually exclusive to the people we directly serve.

Finally, the Case Foundation has created a short guide to impact investing; each page has an area for comments, and they are welcoming input from others in the space.

Click here for more quick reads featuring interesting articles on philanthropy and impact investing.

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