Trailblazing Women in Impact Investing

Special thanks to Ramya Tallapragada, intern with the Case Foundation, for her contributions to this blog.

In the years since the Case Foundation became a champion for impact investing, the movement has really taken off. In the U.S. and around the world, there has been a flurry of activity among traditional investors, policymakers, philanthropists and researchers. We’ve seen traditional investors begin to realize the value of private capital deployed for good, without the need to sacrifice profit. We’ve seen concerted efforts from the social sector to build necessary infrastructure for the impact investing and social enterprise community. We’ve seen government catalyze progress by enacting policy changes to increase the amount of capital available for good. We’ve seen impact investments empower entrepreneurs with transformative ideas to solve real world problems.

The impact investing movement also stands out in another important way: women are emerging as a driving force behind its growth—as investors, as entrepreneurs and as leaders of the movement. A recent NASDAQ piece notes that women are spearheading and populating this sector more so than any other financial services sector. I suppose there are a host of reasons why this is, but I particularly like a quote by Jackie VanderBrug of U.S. Trust in this article:

“I wouldn’t want to say it’s pink, but it has been a field where, philosophically, women have led. Part of that is because women have a more holistic view of investment. Yes, they do care about returns, but they also care about the role of their investments in society. It’s partly because they are looking for more opportunities to differentiate themselves. And it’s partly because they are looking to meet objectives beyond the benchmarks.”

A recent Calvert Investments report asserts that women, along with younger investors, will drive the growth of impact investing. In a study of affluent women, Calvert found that 95 percent ranked “helping others” and 90 percent ranked “environmental responsibility” as important. Women have also demonstrated that they often make purchasing decisions based on their personal values. Still, only 4 percent said that they understood how to make investments that align with their values. 70 percent did not know about sustainable or responsible investing.

While business and investing continues to focus on boomers, this data shows the importance of ensuring that women are aware of impact investing strategies. Remember, their purchasing power and, therefore, their potential social impact power is enormous—women control 39 percent of investible assets in the U.S. That number will continue to rise, as 50 percent of private wealth in the U.S. will be in the hands of women by 2020. And, amongst that group, it’s worth keeping an eye on Generation X and Millennials set to inherit $41 trillion of wealth over the next 40 years, with a higher degree of millennial women who are educated and look to have decision making power (vs. their male counterparts).

Education about opportunities and the how-to’s of impact investing remain an essential component of leveraging the impact of women in impact investing. Activating more investment dollars into the space is what’s required to tip the movement from niche concept to mainstream investment strategy. And typically in the early stages of movement catalyzing, we require some “Be Fearless” actors just “doing it” as we say in our Short Guide to Impact Investing.

Here are some of the fearless women leading the charge. It’s by no means comprehensive, but rather a spotlight on the mix of players from philanthropy, the investment community, the financial services industry and government:

In Philanthropy:

  • I would be remiss not to start with our own Jean Case*. She is an avid champion of the concept of putting private capital to public good. Her work on the U.S. National Advisory Board for Impact Investing helped craft a hugely successful coalition of change agents around a collective policy agenda. And she remains one of the most powerful influencers in the field, as an advocate, an ecosystem builder and an investor.
  • Clara Miller*, after assuming leadership of the Heron Foundation in 2010, has led the foundation’s effort to deploy all of its assets towards its mission, breaking down the traditional method of giving within the organization and ensuring that impact investing was totally integrated into the foundation’s operations and mission.
  • Debra Schwartz* has led the MacArthur Foundation’s impact investing arm for 15 years, directing capital to improving affordable rental housing across the U.S.
  • Laura Arnold, co-Chair of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, is a leading advocate and supporter of Pay for Success, a potential break-through financing scheme for social ventures.
  • Kimberlee Cornett*, Managing Director of The Kresge Foundation’s Social Investment Practice, spearheads the foundation’s effort to identify and fill gaps in funding for enterprises in economically stressed communities using a strategic combination of grant making and investing.
  • Paula Goldman, Vice President and Global Lead for Impact Investing at Omidyar Network, is a critical thought-leader and movement builder in the space. And Omidyar Network’s early movement in the impact investing arena and continued big bets in the space continue to pave the way for future followers.

In the Investment Community:

  • Nancy Pfund, Managing Partner of DBL Partners, is a venture capitalist that has proven that striving for a double bottom line can be profitable for investors and companies. Her current fund has committed to making early investments in companies to not only facilitate impact, but also encourage the integration of impact into corporate culture and operations.
  • Deborah Winshel of BlackRock Impact is transforming the way the traditional investing community views impact. BlackRock Impact oversees $200 billion in assets, offering clients values-based, ESG-based and impact investing strategies. A passionate advocate for metrics, Winshel is also leveraging BlackRock’s quantitative capabilities to measure investees’ social impact.
  • Dina Habib Powell, head of Goldman Sachs’ Urban Investment Group and President of Goldman Sachs Foundation, is another example of a leader moving impact investing to the mainstream. Managing the firm’s housing and community-development investments, Powell is directing billions of dollars to neighborhoods and underserved communities in need across the U.S.
  • Lisa Hall is Managing Director of Anthos Asset Management, a privately owned investment manager based in Amsterdam. Former President and CEO of Calvert Foundation, Hall is a champion for investing in enterprises that aim to solve critical social issues.
  • Maya Chorengel* is the founder of Elevar Equity, a fund manager committed to using impact investments to empower entrepreneurs around the world. Elevar Equity’s early-stage investments have enabled enterprises to develop innovative business models to solve critical development problems around the world.
  • Jenny Abramson, founder of Rethink Impact, brings her diverse background in consulting, education, technology and media to impact investing. Rethink Impact is focused on investing in companies managed by women and leveraging technology to create impact. Listen to this podcast and her focus on enhancing returns through gender lens investing.
  • Jennifer Pryce, President and CEO of the Calvert Foundation, is at the forefront of the effort to democratize impact investing. Through, the Calvert Foundation offers an inexpensive way to become an impact investor by using the foundation’s Community Investment Notes.
  • Erika Karp, Founder and CEO of Cornerstone Capital Group, leverages her expertise working at UBS and as a founding board member of SASB to advance sustainable investments.
  • Tracy Palandjian*, Co-Founder and CEO of Social Finance, is leading the charge to promote public-private partnerships through Pay for Success and Social Impact Bond models.
  • Audrey Choi*, CEO of Morgan Stanley’s Institute of Sustainable Investing, brings her experience working in journalism, the social sector and government to build cross-sector partnerships that promote sustainable investing in building resilient communities across the globe.
  • Durreen Shahnaz, Founder of Asia IIX and Shujog, is building a robust impact investing ecosystem in Asia. After establishing Asia IIX, the world’s first social stock exchange, Shahnaz founded Shujog, which strives to amplify the impact of social enterprises. Keep an eye on her latest idea—the Women’s Livelihood Bond.

In Research and Metrics:

  • Jean Rogers, Founder and CEO of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) is filling a critical gap in the current impact investing industry: measurement standards. SASB is the social side of FASB, and will enable investors to evaluate corporations on their environmental, social and governing performance.
  • Cathy Clark*, at the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at Duke University, is using her 25 years of experience as an impact investor and private foundation executive to conduct rigorous research and data collection to build out the case for impact investing. Her most recent report examines the challenges and barriers to impact investing.
  • Michelle Greene*, former head of Corporate Responsibility at NYSE Euronext is bringing her extensive experience to academia as Adjunct Professor at Columbia University. She also recently joined the Long-Term Stock Exchange, a new securities exchange focused on long-term value creation, as Chief Policy Officer.
  • Sonal Shah, Executive Director of the Beeck Center for Social Innovation at Georgetown University, has taken on a leading role in promoting innovative finance and social innovation policy in the public and private sectors.
  • Lisa Woll, CEO of the US SIF, leads a vibrant network and hub for sustainable, responsible and impact investment, with a host of essential programs and resources. See the 2014 US SIF report here.

In Government:

It is becoming increasingly clear that women—at every intersection of the impact investing movement—are serving as trailblazers and practitioners for its advancement. We just wanted to take a quick moment to say thanks and keep up the hard work.

*Member of the U.S. National Advisory Board on Impact Investing (NAB)

Another Policy Win for Impact Investing

This week marks another important moment in the growing global impact investing movement, and an important reminder of the critical role that government policy can play in catalyzing social progress.

In response to a 2013 call from G8 leaders for nations to designate Task Forces that would work together to identify policy recommendations to accelerate the growth of impact investing, the U.S. National Advisory Board (NAB) on Impact Investing was formed. This incredible group of cross-sector changemakers, including our own CEO Jean Case, presented its recommendations in the summer of 2014 at the White House in the form of a report—Private Capital, Public Good. The report zeroed in on a number of key policy changes that held the potential to significantly increase the amount of capital available for socially responsible business. And over the past two years, in strong partnership between the private sector, philanthropy, civic leaders and government, those recommendations are being adopted through policy change.

From Mission-Related Investment (MRI) regulations issued in September, 2015, to new Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) regulations issued in October, 2015, to last week’s issuance of new Program-Related Investment (PRI) regulations, the U.S. government has listened to stakeholders and taken action to remove uncertainty about impact investing among capital providers (foundations, charitable organization and private investors alike) wishing to invest for both financial and social returns.

The Latest Policy Win: PRI Regulations

This week, the Treasury Department and IRS finalized highly anticipated PRI regulations. This new guidance removes some of the uncertainty about impact investing among foundations by confirming new examples of the types of investments that qualify as PRIs. These examples were recommended in 2012 to modernize the list created more than 40 years ago, and identify foundations using PRIs to further their mission through:

  • Different financing methods, including equity, debt or loan guarantees—as is frequently the case in Pay for Success models.
  • Greater flexibility in determining a prudent, mission-aligned exit from an investment in a for-profit company that has become profitable.
  • Investments in both for-profit and nonprofit organizations and even to individuals through, for example, microloans in developing economies.
  • Strategies that aren’t limited by geography or charitable purpose—PRIs can go to support the arts, the environment, health, urban development and more, both within the U.S. and internationally.

This new guidance is very welcome news. Historically, limited PRI examples left many foundations that wanted to take advantage of PRIs to support their charitable efforts on the sidelines. They questioned what was “allowable,” given their unique tax status and the changing landscape of investment seeking social enterprises and revenue generating nonprofits. At a time when our communities are in great need and traditional resources are being stretched thin—we need the power of all sectors working together, and PRIs provide foundations with a powerful tool to make that happen.

We Know These Kinds of Policy Changes Can Matter

We’re encouraged by the recent steps taken by the federal government, knowing that their actions can, and have, greatly influenced market activity. If we think back to 1979, the U.S. government issued highly impactful guidance on the prudent management of pension funds—stating that investments in venture capital funds could be consistent with ERISA guidelines. Directly following this guidance, venture investment in the U.S. jumped from just over $450 million in 1979 to a peak of $5 billion by 1987, effectively catapulting venture investments into the mainstream.

Taken together, the MRI, PRI and ERISA policy changes remove obstacles (or excuses) that have stood between good intentions to seek out impact investments and action. Even a relatively small percentage increase in pension fund impact investments would add up to billions in new capital—funds governed by ERISA manage roughly half of the $18 trillion in US pension assets. And on the PRI front, a Center for Effective Philanthropy report points to the great potential to scale impact investing—of the 64 foundation CEOs surveyed, only 41 percent said their foundations are making impact investments. Of those who are, they are deploying a median of only two percent of their endowments and 0.5 percent of their grants to PRIs.

At the Case Foundation, we believe we’re on the verge of seeing impact investing gain traction like never before. The impact investing road has been further paved by this latest policy change—let’s make that road paved more with robust actions than good intentions!

For more on the new PRI regulations, visit the White House blog post: Steps to Catalyze Private Foundation Impact Investing.

Photo credit: Roman Boed

Words Matter: How Should We Talk About Impact Investing?

For a number of years, the Case Foundation has been an active champion of the Impact Investing movement. In this work, which encourages institutions and individuals to align their capital more closely with their values, we have hosted more than 300 dialogues to better understand interests and concerns of audience segments as we seek to accelerate the movement. Yesterday, I had the privilege of joining more than 600 people on a webinar to discuss important new findings.

Thanks to a group of partners that included the Omidyar Network, Ford Foundation and MacArthur Foundation, together with the Global Impact Investing Network and the Global Social Impact Investing Steering Group, we unveiled important new research that tracked and analyzed coverage of the topic of impact investing in traditional and social media over a 12-month period. This report provides a clear picture of common messaging either being received or shared through the coverage that appeared in these months. This data, taken together, provides a unique roadmap to guide those of us championing the movement to key audiences and working hard to build out the impact investing ecosystem. As with any movement, words matter and can play a powerful role in informing, educating and activating those on the sidelines.

The good news is that impact investing has enjoyed mostly positive coverage and engagement in both traditional and social media. But equally good news is that it has been balanced by some skepticism or negative coverage that helps identify for us the work we have to do in the days ahead. An important insight provided by the research is that we must be careful to adapt our language and emphasis depending on who we are trying to reach. For instance, there was a clear difference in how impact investing is talked about in the U.K. as a “powerful government tool” versus in the U.S., where coverage and sharing is dominated by such phrases as “taking off,” “reaping returns” and “Millennials demand it.”

Another clear takeaway from the research is that we have work to do in the realm of measuring impact —reported to be the most common negatively associated narrative; on this point, I think there is broad agreement in the field. We must continue to commit ourselves to measuring the “impact” in impact investing. While this may take some time, there have been exciting developments to help close the gap in this area. For instance, the Case Foundation has partnered with B Lab to bring new tools to companies everywhere who want to measure their social impacts—”Measure What Matters” impact assessment tool has engaged more than 40,000 companies to date—an important step forward.

The research also shines a light on how different audiences, investors, policymakers, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and high net worth individuals are engaging with each narrative, as it relates to a particular issue area. For example, two important audience segments— philanthropists and entrepreneurs—are more closely associated with the more negative “not a silver bullet” references. Indeed, within the field we recognize that it is decidedly unhelpful to paint impact investing as a silver bullet, but rather it becomes a new arrow in our quiver as we seek to champion all means in our efforts toward social impact. For those of us that speak about the movement routinely, we can use this research to remind us of the importance of making this point.

With all movements there are stages. While I believe that the impact investing movement is experiencing great traction and momentum, we are still in early days. This important research confirms we’re making strides in communicating effectively to broaden the tent and invite more participants from the private, public and nonprofit sectors to catalyze transformative social change. At the same time, it helps to guide us in our words and actions to fill gaps and address concerns.

If you didn’t have the chance to join us, the full webinar can be accessed, here. I’d like to extend my gratitude to the partners who invested in this important work and invite you to share your thoughts and insights on Twitter using hashtag #impinv.

An Opposite World for Opposite Day

Today is Opposite Day! Or should we say, today is not Opposite Day…

On this lighthearted day created to celebrate the unorthodox, we give pause and think about how we might apply the same paradoxical principles to our own work in the social sector. We asked ourselves, what would the world look like if a few key things got turned upside down and their opposites became the reality?

What if the majority of investments were Impact Investments?

In the world right now, most investments are still made without considering their environmental and social impact. In fact, of the estimated $212 trillion invested worldwide, only $60 billion has to date been identified as intentionally committed to impact investing. Today, we allow ourselves to imagine if the opposite were true: if essentially all investors sought to not only mitigate negative impact within their investments, but actively invested to improve social and environmental outcomes. What might the world look like if trillions of dollars were unleashed with the dual intent of catalyzing long-term, sustainable social change and making a profit? In this “profit with purpose” climate:

  • Institutional investors would be equipped with the tools to build out diverse, impact portfolios.
  • Individual investors would have a huge pipeline of new businesses to invest in, and impact would factor in to all of our investment options.
  • Fund managers could develop competitive impact funds for all investors.
  • Your entire 401K would be invested to intentionally create stronger communities, more sustainable environmental outcomes, greater social equity, better treatment of employees in all sectors and improved schools and access to education globally.
  • Social businesses would have access to the kind of scale-fueling dollars that allow them to create positive outcomes in communities all over the world.
  • Markets would have the capacity to track financial and social performance bolstering investor confidence.
  • Philanthropic dollars and government efforts would be matched with fully committed capital markets, driven to do more than maximize profits.

In this opposite world, the possibilities seem endless when impact investments are the norm and the private sector is fully harnessed to tackle our most entrenched social issues.

What if the majority of new high-growth startups were lead by diverse teams?

Right now, most companies funded through venture capital are founded by white men, making for a very homogenous startup community that tends to exclude women and entrepreneurs of color. Recent research found that 85 percent of all venture capital–funded businesses have no women on the executive team, only 2.7 percent had a woman CEO and less than one percent have an African-American founder. And yet, a growing library of research suggests that teams with a diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation are more innovative than homogeneous groups, and that diverse companies perform better financially. So what if we flipped these statistics on their head? What if the majority of high-growth companies with venture capital funding were lead by diverse teams of entrepreneurs?

  • Diverse entrepreneurs would have access to valuable social capital through new networks and mentorships.
  • By moving more investments to diverse teams, we would get more successful entrepreneurs who represent diverse communities. This would mean our leaders, investors and entrepreneurial decision-makers would have those same valuable diverse backgrounds and experiences that make their companies successful.
  • More venture capital firms would include women executives and executives of color in the funding decision-making process, which, if similarity bias research holds true, would distribute venture capital funding more evenly among diverse entrepreneurs.
  • A new generation of young entrepreneurs would be inspired, and current women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color may have a chance for funding because they’re being noticed for the first time.

This topic is complicated for many reasons, but one thing is clear: when we have an inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem, we have more people sitting at the table to help push us forward and innovate, create economic growth and strengthen communities.

What if instead of erring on the side of caution, we all decided to Be Fearless?

Too often today, those of us charged with finding or funding solutions to social challenges — philanthropists, government, nonprofits — seem to be moving too slowly and often operating with the same set of tools, concepts and caution of the generations before us. But what if failure wasn’t a limitation? What if taking risks was the status quo? What kind of world would you imagine?

In this fearless world, we would all:

  • Make big bets and make history – which is what the Levi Strauss Foundation did when it embraced the company’s 160-year pioneering legacy and was able to create an innovative new approach to investing in San Francisco’s rising social change.
  • Experiment early and often – as demonstrated by the Salesforce Foundation, which revolutionized corporate philanthropy through its innovative 1-1-1 model, giving 1 percent product, 1 percent equity and 1 percent employee time for philanthropic purposes.
  • Make Failure matter – just like the Jacobs Family Foundation did when it transformed an abandoned lot, took on an experimental initial public offering and ultimately transformed its business model from traditional grantmaker to place-based funder to maximize impact without sacrificing its core values and mission.
  • Reach beyond our bubble – and follow in the steps of Global Health Corps, which was formed by six diverse strangers with a shared vision to spark and nurture unlikely partnerships among very different young people from around the world to impact global health.
  • Let urgency conquer fear – which compelled the senior leadership team at Share Our Strength to make big bets aimed at ending childhood hunger in America.

When global challenges seem overwhelming, we would set out to create unlikely partnerships, experiment with new thinking and set audacious goals—just like these fearless leaders highlighted above have done.

To build a better world, to make a real difference, we have to take bigger risks, make bigger bets, and fail forward; in short, we have to Be Fearless. These opposite worlds may be hard to imagine, and there are certainly hurdles to get there, but we, along with our partners in each of these areas, are working every day to make them a reality.

Ready to join us? Get started with the Be Fearless Action Guide, which offers step-by-step tools to help you take risks, be bold and fail forward.

Editors Note: On a previous version of this blog post the size of markets estimates quoted from the USSIF and the GIIN were incorrect and have been modified.

50 Entrepreneurial Influencers You Should Be Following On Twitter

At the Case Foundation, we celebrate the power of entrepreneurship—as a means to help changemakers tackle global challenges, transform communities, create jobs, spur economic growth and close the opportunity gap—every day of the year.

This week however is special, as we join with millions of others in the world’s largest celebration of entrepreneurs, innovators and job creators during Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW). Now in its ninth year, GEW “inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators.” It has become a “platform for connection and collaboration—engaging all players along the entrepreneurship spectrum in strengthening ecosystems around the world.”

To forge a stronger, more dynamic and increasingly diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem, we have curated a list of 50 influencers in the entrepreneurial space—with a focus on social entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs of color, impact investors and ecosystem builders—who we encourage you to follow and engage with on Twitter. We recognize that there are thousands of others who are actively engaging in this conversation on Twitter… so if you want to shine a spotlight on others supporting this ecosystem, please let us know on Twitter using @CaseFoundation and the hashtag #Ent4All.

And don’t forget to keep in touch with the Case Foundation and our team!
@CaseFoundation   @JeanCase   @SteveCase   Full Team List

Entrepreneurial Influencers*:
Easily follow every Twitter handle on this list through our Entrepreneurship Twitter List.

Halcyon Incubator


Supporting intrepid social entrepreneurs with transformative ideas to solve 21st century challenges.



PowerMoves.NOLA is about creating power through opportunity – the opportunity of high growth minority Traditional & Tech Entrepreneurship.



Global incubator & seed fund helping startups transform industries that impact millions—education, energy & sustainability, health, transportation & cities.



We bet on good job creators.



Propeller is a New Orleans nonprofit that works to solve local problems through social innovation. #PropelForward #PropelChange

Scott Case


@MainStGenome Co-Founder *** Up Global *** @MalariaNoMore to end malaria deaths in Africa by 2015.

Entrepreneur Magazine


Premier business magazine for entrepreneurs. Our main account is @Entrepreneur. Follow this account for all print-related content and material.

Penny Pritzker


The official Twitter feed of the United States Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker



Techstars is a global ecosystem that empowers entrepreneurs to bring new technologies to market wherever they choose to build their business.



Working globally to build inclusive workplaces and expand opportunities for women and business. Terms of use:

Tory Burch Foundation


The official Tory Burch Foundation tweets.



Follow us for news about UBS, our events and opinions from around the world.

Startup Weekend


Create communities & build companies in a weekend! No Talk. All Action. Part of @techstars and powered by @GoogleForEntrep

Kauffman Foundation


Fostering economic independence by advancing education & entrepreneurship. RTs ≠ endorsements. House Rules

Global Entrepreneurship Network


#GEW has given rise to a Global Entrepreneurship Network of entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, researchers and other startup champions in 160+ countries.

Branson Centre


The Branson Centre was established by Richard Branson and Virgin Unite to identify promising entrepreneurs and equip them to launch successful businesses.



Everything you need to know to start and grow your business now.

Conscious Company


Print and digital publication about innovative, sustainable businesses that are doing good in the world.



Official Twitter account of , homepage for the world’s business leaders.



Official Twitter feed for the Fast Company business media brand; inspiring readers to think beyond traditional boundaries & create the future of business.

Skoll Foundation


Driving large-scale change by investing in, connecting, & celebrating social entrepreneurs & innovators dedicated to solving the world’s most pressing problems

Forward Cities


A national learning collaborative between cities of innovation. Focus: inclusive innovation; shared learning; social impact; entrepreneurship.

New Economy Initiaitve


New Economy Initiative for SE Michigan is accelerating the transition to an innovation-based economy that expands opportunities for all.

Christopher Gergen


Focus on urban innovation & developing next generation high-impact leaders. Author, teacher, father, entrepreneur.

Arlan Hamilton


Investor/Managing Director at @Backstage_Cap 

Earl Robinson


CEO, New Orleans Startup Fund & PowerMoves.NOLA: Providing underrepresented, early-stage treps with access to capital, guidance and a national ecosystem.

Idea Villages


For entrepreneurs and those who believe in them.

Jess Knox


Movement maker; growth consultant; father; Maine Startup & Create Week, @startupportland @olympicostrat

Blackstone Launch Pad


Blackstone LaunchPad is a campus entrepreneurship program offering coaching, ideation and venture creation support.

Kapor Center


The Kapor Center is relentlessly pursuing creative strategies to leverage tech for positive, progressive change.



The official Twitter account of the U.S. Small Business Administration. News, tips, and resources for the small biz community.

JumpStart Inc


JumpStart is a nationally recognized nonprofit accelerating the success of diverse entrepreneurs, their high growth companies and the ecosystems supporting them

The Pew Trusts


Driven by knowledge to solve today’s challenging problems, improve public policy, inform the public, and invigorate civic life. RT does not imply endorsement.

Ross Baird


Executive Director of @villagecapital; also teach at @UVA. Enable entrepreneurs to solve major global problems. Big fan of @UVa basketball, @braves.



All things urban, from The Atlantic.

Aspen Institute Center for Urban Innovation


Exploring ideas. Inspiring conversations on issues that matter.

National Urban League


Established in 1910, National Urban League is the nation’s oldest and largest community-based movement devoted to empowering African Americans.

Small Business Majority


We are a national small business organization founded and run by small business owners.

Opportunity Hub


Opportunity Hub is the largest minority owned multi-campus coworking space, entrepreneurship school, pre-accelerator and incubator.

John Hope Bryant


Thought leader, founder, chairman and CEO, Bryant Group Ventures & Operation HOPE, bestselling author of How The Poor Can Save Capitalism & LOVE LEADERSHIP

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship


Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) is a global nonprofit that unlocks potential in young people by teaching them how to think entrepreneurially.

Opportunity Finance Network


OFN is a national network of CDFIs (community lending institutions) that invest in opportunities to benefit low-income and low-wealth people in the U.S.

Ellevate Network


A global women’s network. The essential resource for professional women who create, inspire and lead. Together we #InvestInWomen.

Sallie Krawcheck


Ellevest, Ellevate Network…past head of Merrill Lynch & Smith Barney ….past research analyst…….crazed UNC basketball fan

Lesa Mitchell


Supporting networks that enable inventors and startups to scale.

Craig Shapiro


Founder and managing partner @collabfund. Student of history.

Jacqueline Novogratz


Founder/CEO of @acumen, dedicated to changing the way the world tackles poverty. Author of The Blue Sweater

Linda Rottenberg


Endeavor CEO and Co-Founder, high-impact entrepreneurship promoter, mom of identical twins. Author of Crazy Is A Compliment

Omidyar Network


A philanthropic investment firm harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. #PositiveReturns

Google for Entrepreneurs


News and updates from Google for Entrepreneurs.

*This list is provided for informational and educational purposes only. Inclusion on this list does not include endorsement by the Foundation.

New Research Shows Impact Investments are Living up to Great Expectations

This post was contributed by Steven Rodriguez, intern at the Case Foundation.

The Wharton Social Impact Initiative (WSII) at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania recently released a study called Great Expectations: Mission Preservation and Financial Performance in Impact Investments. It included 53 impact investing private equity funds and revealed exciting data for those who are eager to know how these investments can and do perform compared to market benchmarks. According to this research, there is evidence that market rate returns for mission-aligned investments are, in fact, possible*. While the impact investing market remains relatively small, there are active investors who do not think doing good should mean sacrificing returns. For these market-rate-seeking impact investors, the new Wharton report should come as very good news!

As Kate Ahern from the Case Foundation explained during a recent webinar, Everything you Need to Know About Impact Investing (In 1 Hour!), investors can approach the sector with a range of financial and social impact return expectations—from a sector first focus, to blended returns, market rate or even impact alpha. While the WSII research focused on investments seeking market rate returns, something worth noting in the findings is evidence that mission-aligned exits led to even greater performance than non-mission aligned exits. Additionally, Wharton found that “concessionary financial returns were not required to preserve the social or environmental effect of impact investments.”

This report provides evidence that investment managers can align impact goals with financial expectations without sacrificing performance. According to an article in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Wharton Finance professor, Chris Geczy, who supervised the research, said, “It represents an exciting initial advancement in our ongoing social impact research agenda.”

While the data demonstrates favorable outcomes for impact investing and for fund managers seeking market rate returns, it is important to keep complexities associated with various return expectations in mind. As Professor Geczy explained, “The industry includes distinct market segments with very different social and financial value propositions. One must be very careful not to generalize the performance of the market rate-seeking segment of funds that we studied to the entire, multidimensional industry.” It is important to remember the spectrum of opportunities available for the diverse impact investing community, from foundations making below-market Program Related Investments (PRIs) to early stage venture firms making direct investments in companies, like Happy Family, that generated huge returns from a successful exit.

The Wharton report is one of a growing number of similar research projects focused on the financial viability, competitive performance, risk and expectations of impact investments, particularly fund investments. One additional example that appeared earlier this year is a report from the GIIN and Cambridge Associates, Introducing the Impact Investing Benchmark, a study of 50 impact funds launched after 1998. The study found that these funds delivered returns comparable to other, non-impact seeking funds.

We at the Case Foundation are excited to see the knowledge base continue to grow in this sector. We hope these reports will serve as support for more and better informed investment decision making that includes impact investments from the full range of asset classes, returns and risk profiles.

To learn more about getting started in impact investing you can also check out our updated Short Guide to Impact Investing!

*The financial performance of the funds studied were benchmarked against the Russell 2000, an index that measures the performance of small capitalization companies (between $300 million and $2 billion), along with other indexes and found comparable results.

Still Have Questions About Impact Investing?

We’ve got Answers. Here’s a recap from the recent webinar: Everything you need to know about impact investing (in 1 Hr!)For those of you who missed it you can WATCH the webinar, which featured our own Jean Case and Kate Ahern of the Case Foundation; Melanie Audette of Mission Investors Exchange; Dan Brillman of Unite Us; and Stacy Donohue of Omidiyar Network.

Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation opened the discussion with a description of why impact investing and social enterprise are opening the door to important new opportunities for philanthropists to experiment and start making real impact. She shared pivotal trends and exciting recent developments in the field, like Happy Family’s big success for investors, which earned up to 30 times their return when Danone purchased the company. Finally, she provided insights into how foundation leadership can start to move from idea to action on impact investing.

Next, Kate Ahern, VP of Social Innovation at the Foundation gave an overview of the ins and outs of impact investing. She explained the range of options available for investors looking to bring their social goals to their financial strategy and vice versa. She also identified some of the unique opportunities for organizations like foundations to engage in the field, for example through Social Impact Bonds and backing supportive policies.

Stacy Donahue, Investment Partner at Omidyar Network and Dan Brillman, Founder and CEO of Unite US shared the perspectives of a social investor and a social entrepreneur. Omidyar Network has, through its LLC, provided Unite US with a Series A equity investment. Together they provided a rare look into the practical interactions between a company and its philanthropic, for-profit investor. Both Donahue and Brillman shared great insights into the values of reaching beyond your bubble for highly impactful collaborations.

At the Case Foundation we believe in the power of philanthropy, nonprofits and government to drive social change, that’s why we’re so excited about the growing momentum in impact investing. Over the course of the last two years we have witnessed a number of game changing moments, which we featured in our recent blog post, A Hot Summer for Impact Investing. From Goldman Sachs Asset Management’s recent acquisition of Imprint Capital, to impact investing champions like Darren Walker and the Ford Foundation taking leadership of the U.S. National Advisory Board on Impact Investing—each of these efforts have been rooted in building a strong ecosystem for the sector.

As part of this commitment to the ecosystem, we have spent countless hours educating and activating greater numbers of impact investors and educating others on this powerful tool for social change. Last year we released A Short Guide to Impact Investing, a quick and easy to read resource for anyone interested in impact investing. This year we’ve embarked on a number of educational events—from our journalists training hosted in conjunction with the ImpactHub and Arabella Advisors, to our webinar, this week, in partnership with Council on Foundations and Mission Investors Exchange.

We hope you will continue the conversation with us as we continue to explore more opportunities to drive social change through social entrepreneurship and impact investing—join us on Twitter using #ImpInv.

Questions about Impact Investing? Join our Webinar to get the Answers!

Chances are you’ve had a conversation, read an article or seen some news recently on impact investing and social enterprise. These hot topics are important subjects of conversation in the social sector—and issue areas you need to know about.

As the buzz grows more questions continue to surface what is impact investing really; how does it work; what are my options? And most importantly is it right for me and my organization?

On September 15th from 2:00 to 3:00 pm ET, the Case Foundation, in partnership with the Council on Foundations and Mission Investors Exchange, will host a webinar to cover everything you need to know about impact investing, in just one hour. Register today to reserve your spot.

During this free webinar, Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation will join Melanie Audette, Acting Managing Director at Mission Investors Exchange and other industry leading impact investors and civic-tech social entrepreneurs. Together, they will explain the full range of options available to empower foundations interested in deploying their philanthropic resources toward social good through impact investing.

Register today for free!

 In preparation for the webinar, download your free copy of A Short Guide to Impact Investing.