Impact Investing Gets a Four Billion Dollar Boost

Today, the White House hosted a summit that highlighted more than $4 billion in commitments to finding solutions to climate change. These commitments – from foundations, investors, federal agencies and others – represent the diverse ways that private capital can be mobilized for public good.

Sonal Shah, former Senior Fellow at the Case Foundation and current Executive Director of the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University, has been engaged with policymakers and investors on how to build smart, high-impact partnerships that bring the talent and resources of the private sector into the business of social change. Read more about today’s announcements from Sonal in her blog.

The commitments announced today represent the increased interest from investors to bet on the ingenuity of the private sector to find sustainable solutions that address climate change. They also represent the commitment from the federal government to spur innovation in the sector and convene a wide range of stakeholders who have committed to allocate capital to build the clean tech ecosystem.

The announcements today follow $2 billion in commitments announced by the private sector in June of 2014 to make investments in companies, funds and programs that aim to generate both financial and social returns. Those announcements were accompanied by the release of a report – Private Capital, Public Good: How Smart Federal Policy Can Galvanize Impact Investing – which provided a framework for policymakers in support of impact investing.

The announcements follow other recent news of the private sector thinking big about impact investing. In February, BlackRock—the world’s largest money manager—announced the launch of a new business unit, BlackRock Impact, to be led by former Robin Hood Foundation President and COO Deborah Winshel. In April, Bain Capital announced that former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick would lead its new impact fund.

The last year has also seen the creation of impact funds by global corporations like Mars and Danone, as well as new investments in responsible companies and funds by respected entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, Reid Hoffman and Marc Andreessen. The number of certified B Corps has grown to over 1,300, and certified B Corp Etsy announced an IPO in April. Finally, the public markets for responsible investments are also growing—US SIF’s biannual report released in late 2014 found that SRI investing in the United States had increased 76 percent since 2012.

Jean Case said in April that it’s a new inning for impact investing. The $4 billion in commitments announced today strengthen the all-star lineup of investors, companies, and government agencies that are mobilizing the power of the private sector to address some of our most critical challenges.