NEWS & PRESSNow live: “Impact for Decision-Making: An Online Curriculum”

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March 28, 2023

Impact Frontiers and Impact Capital Managers (ICM), two organizations with a shared commitment to responsibly scaling the impact investing field, today announced the launch of a new online curriculum designed to improve investor decision-making through the integration of impact and financial considerations. The free, open-access curriculum was made possible by a grant from the Tipping Point Fund on Impact Investing and is available at https://impactfrontiers.org/online-curriculum.

To mark the launch of the curriculum, ICM is also publicly sharing for the first time its Fundamentals of Impact Measurement and Management (IMM), a standard created by the network in 2020 to set a high but achievable bar for a variety of private capital fund managers seeking both superior returns and meaningful impact.

The structure and content of the online curriculum is informed by Impact Frontiers’ ongoing work with 100+ investors via specialized investor cohorts — including a cohort of venture capital, private equity, debt and real estate managers working to align with the ICM Fundamentals of IMM — that provide opportunities for private markets investors to share best practices and real-time feedback on challenges in impact management. Impact Frontiers and ICM collaborated to synthesize practical insights and learnings from the real-world experiences of participating investors to create a curriculum that empowers investors to enhance both impact and financial performance.

In a set of instructional videos, investors are led through the five key steps of impact-financial integration:

  1. Set up an impact rating
  2. Identify a risk-adjusted financial return metric
  3. Construct and analyze integrated investment scatterplots
  4. Synthesize decision-making rules
  5. Communicate performance

The curriculum also features a downloadable self-diagnostic worksheet, customizable impact rating templates, an accompanying resource on racial equity in impact management developed in partnership with Erika Seth Davies, and an impact portfolio construction simulation based on a Harvard Business School case study taught at dozens of business and policy schools around the world.

Investors that complete the curriculum will have the tools and skills to immediately influence decision-making through each stage in the investment lifecycle.

“Too often, sustainability and impact management get siloed within investment organizations. As a result, information about impact ends up being used frequently for reporting but less frequently for decision-making,” said Mike McCreless, Executive Director of Impact Frontiers. “We wanted to offer practical guidance on how to pull sustainability and impact out of their silos and integrate them with the financial factors that investors are used to considering. By leveraging the real-world experiences of investors participating in the learning cohorts, we were able to create a curriculum that was ultimately designed by investors, for investors.”

The launch of the online curriculum is being paired with the release of ICM’s Fundamentals of IMM and an accompanying roadmap and case studies for investors, which is available both on the curriculum website and at www.impactcapitalmanagers.com. All impact funds invited to join ICM membership are required to sign a commitment letter acknowledging the network’s Fundamentals and agreeing to meet these IMM expectations within two years of joining. To help facilitate alignment with these Fundamentals, ICM manages an annual disclosures process and provides guidance and support.

Annie Olszewski, Senior Director at ICM and leader on the network’s IMM approach, noted: “We wanted to build the capacity of our own members to manage impact and financial return within the context of commonly accepted existing standards, including our own Fundamentals, and viewed the partnership with Impact Frontiers as an opportunity for valuable peer-to-peer skills-building.”

Marieke Spence, founding Executive Director of the ICM network, added: “We recognized there was a need to address a learning gap that ICM and its members are uniquely positioned to fill – the perspective of managers seeking both impact and superior investor returns, including smaller managers (i.e., those with less than $200M in AUM) and managers investing in early-stage companies. Our hope is that the Impact Frontiers curriculum, which was informed by the ICM cohort experience, will benefit other managers with similar investor profiles.”

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