Field Notes: The Future of Impact

In philanthropy and impact investing today: a stock exchange milestone, why better data matters and the next generation of investors.

On Devex, Adva Saldinger reports that representatives of the U.S. National Advisory Board to the Social Investment Task Force rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, heralding a call to social impact investing:

The bell ringing is expected to help build the momentum around what is seemingly becoming a noteworthy conversation for development, and comes on the heels of considerable discussion about the importance of development impact bonds.

Here’s Steve Goldberg on Markets for Good on why building better data is necessary in order for social innovation to work:

Scaling social innovation is going to involve the seemingly oxymoronic task of serving exponentially more people without sacrificing highly personalized delivery. E-commerce succeeded because Internet businesses figured out ‘mass customization’, and we have to do the same thing with social innovation. If we take shortcuts and homogenize social innovations, we’ll fall victim to ‘reversion to the mean’ in which programs that worked well under laboratory conditions fizzled when they were expanded.

All of these moving parts will not come together or work in alignment without a lot of timely, accurate and coordinated information, which simply does not happen spontaneously. Scaling high-touch innovations is inconceivable without commensurate progress in data infrastructure.

The new generation of young heirs is seeking to generate both financial and social return in their investments, but do advisors and other investors understand their reasoning? This report from ImpactAssets gives voice to the millennial investor perspective.

You might also be interested to hear about how nonprofits are feeling about social investment and risk from Dee O’Sullivan-Winks at the Pioneers Post, who says that while there is a lot of information and discussion that supports changing perspectives within the investment market, “there is not the same depth of resources available to assist charities in clarifying exactly where they or their social investment initiatives would sit in a risk/return spectrum.”

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