The Global Impact Investing Network’s ninth survey of impact investors finds most are achieving their goals for positive social and environmental impact as well as for financial returns.
The annual snapshot of the market reveals an industry that’s growing steadily and is increasingly diversifying, in terms of the types of investors as well as the breadth of their interests.
This year the GIIN surveyed 266 investors—the most so far—managing US$239 billion in assets, just under half the US$502 billion the GIIN recently estimated are invested globally.
Most impact investors (66%) are looking for risk-adjusted, market-rate returns, although 70% of foundations and not-for-profit fund managers investing for impact—26% of all surveyed—seek below-market returns, the survey shows. Overall, 90% of investors are satisfied with the financial and impact returns they track, based on their range of objectives.
Specifically, 82% of investors who responded said their impact results were in line with their expectations, while 16% said they exceeded their expectations. When it comes to financial returns, 77% said they were in line with their expectations, and 14% said they exceeded them.
“As the market is evolving, it’s building a stronger track record,” says Amit Bouri, the GIIN’s CEO. “That will be critical to sustained growth.”
And that growth will be essential if impact investing is to address the huge challenges the world faces, from climate change to poverty and hunger, to gender equality. The survey results mean “two things that might feel contradictory—that the impact investing market is larger and more robust than it’s ever been, and it’s nowhere near to where it needs to be,” Bouri says.
One of the GIIN’s strategies for boosting the market this year is to focus on what it calls “scale with integrity.” That is, accelerating growth “so the capital arises to the scale of need,” he says, but with a focus on ensuring this additional capital is directed to projects that show measurable positive environmental and social impact.