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Impact Investing: A Marathon Not A Sprint

Here are some key takeaways from our recent event: Impact Investing: A Marathon Not A Sprint. We welcomed thought leaders Luther Ragin, Former President and First CEO of The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), John Otterlei, Board Member at the Heron Foundation, and Stephanie Cohn Rupp, our Managing Director of Impact Investing. The panelists explored topics around starting your personal impact investing journey.


Luther Ragin: Working definition to me for impact investing is very straight forward. It’s simply investments that are made with the intention, underscore intention, of generating social or environmental impact and earning a return.

Stephanie Cohn Rupp: My definition of impact investing is basically conscientious capitalism. It’s beyond. I mean we talk about impact investing as the investment itself but when I think of it personally I think of it as just a different approach to investment. One that is self-reflexive and conscientious.

John Otterlei: all investments have impact. I believe that every investment does have impact and I think as we go on this journey over the next several years we’ll be able to get better and better at this. We’re just scratching the surface.

Stephanie Cohn Rupp: But I have to say for the real newcomer to the space, I always say it starts with a commitment. Before you start thinking about the how, the big thing is the why. So whatever your reason is and I’m going to quote Confluence Philanthropy’s quote: it’s important to own what you own and know why you’re leveraging these funds and for what.

Luther Ragin: I personally believe that the most important thing is for the investor to be clear about what impacts they seek. That is the starting point for the whole discussion. Once the investor determines what is it that they’re interested in advancing. What is it they’re interested in mitigating. What is it they’re interested in achieving.

John Otterlei: Impact investing has become a much, much bigger topic of discussion around the country. It is attracting a lot of advisors, a lot of new funds so the challenge is really finding those that are truly impactful. To me one of the great things that’s going on is with all the talk about impact investing is we’re beginning to see corporations change their behavior. I think the real hope for all of it is that corporations will become much better behaved, use their resources more wisely, and be more impactful, not just on bottom line but everything they do.

Luther Ragin: A foundation that’s prepared to use its full toolbox to achieve impact can do some remarkable things. As in traditional investing, due diligence is important, cannot be overlooked that we investment ultimately with our heads and our hearts.

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