Understanding how to effectively measure and manage impact is critical to ensuring impact investors are achieving their desired impact results to address the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges. In this section, you will find guidance, information, tools, and other resources designed to help you navigate and implement impact management into your day-to-day operating practices.
The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) envisions a future world in which social and environmental factors are routinely integrated into investment decisions. To realize this bold vision, in 2018 the GIIN produced its Roadmap for the Future of Impact Investing, which presents six categories of action that the impact investing community needs to take on to ensure the industry achieves its potential. One of the categories includes the call to action to strengthen the identity of impact investing. Acting upon this, the GIIN:
- Developed the Core Characteristics of Impact Investing to provide the market with baseline expectations of what it means for investors to credibly practice impact investing.
- Launched the IRIS+ system to help investors measure, manage, and optimize their impact. As such, IRIS+ provides the market with how to adhere to the Core Characteristics.
What is Impact Measurement & Management?
Impact measurement and management includes identifying and considering the positive and negative effects one’s business actions have on people and the planet, and then figuring out ways to mitigate the negative and maximize the positive in alignment with one’s goals. Impact measurement & management is iterative by nature. Consider these four distinct actions to get started:
- Set goals & expectations: Goals should consider the effects an investment has on people and/or the planet and balance investor expectations for risk, return, liquidity and impact. IRIS+ allows investors to set impact goals either by Impact Categories and Impact Themes (per the IRIS+ thematic taxonomy), or through the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
- Define strategies: There are many pathways to achieving impact goals and meeting expectations. Investors should consider what pathways make the most sense for their portfolio, investment expertise, or client demand. It is also imperative to use evidence during this phase. To streamline this process IRIS+, enables investors to select from a list of common Strategic Goals that have been identified in consultation with 400+ stakeholders as being common to any given Impact Theme. For example “Improving Financial Health” is a common strategic goal for the Financial Inclusion theme, and “Improving Energy Alternatives for Cooking” is a common strategic goal for the Energy Access theme. All IRIS+ Strategic Goals have been linked to evidence, and mapped by outcomes that the Strategic Goal can have.
- Select metrics & set targets: Investors should use relevant output, outcome, and proxy metrics to set targets (as appropriate), track performance, and manage toward success. Impact metrics should ultimately deliver investment decision information, help learn and pivot when necessary, and strengthen the performance of investors’ portfolio and investment strategy. IRIS+ includes Core Metrics Sets which are short list of key indicators for each Strategic Goal, and are backed by evidence and based on best practices across the industry. Acknowledging, that each investment is different, Core Metrics Sets can be tailored to include specific metrics that are relevant to each investor and enterprise.
- Manage impact performance: Impact measurement & management is more than counting metrics. It means considering information about risks, returns, and impact to learn, adjust, and improve investment decision-making. This is includes embedding feedback loops through the lifecycle of an investment, incorporating feedback from affected stakeholders, and disclosing impact performance data in a clear, consistent, and comparable way – all of which are addressed within IRIS+ Core Metrics Sets. To discover fit-for-purpose resources that can assist across impact measurement and management needs, visit the Impact Toolkit.
Impact Measurement and Management is an evolving practice. The GIIN is committed to helping advance practice and collaborating with other market builders to ensure clear, consistent, and harmonized approaches to IMM.
To access practical how-to guidance to help advance your IMM practice, refer to IRIS+ guidance.
Additional GIIN IMM Resources
IRIS+ is the generally accepted system for measuring, managing, and optimizing impact. IRIS+ is a public good managed by the GIIN. Most of the following resources are accessible within the IRIS+ website.
IRIS+ Alignments: The GIIN partners with leading market builders to harmonize impact measurement metric sets, methodologies, and assessment tools. These alignments clarify how IRIS+ can be used alongside market-level initiatives, supporting the consolidation and effectiveness of IMM practices globally. Access the GIIN’s alignments here.
Still have questions on Impact Measurement and Management?
To more deeply engage with the GIIN’s IMM team, we encourage you to consider GIIN membership, where you can access one-on-one virtual “office hours” and receive answers to your questions from a GIIN IMM specialist, and also keep an eye on upcoming IMM workshops, which are open to non-members.
- Become a GIIN member and gain access to IMM virtual "office hours"
- The GIIN provides a variety of educational offerings to support investors implementation of IRIS+ and impact measurement & management practices. Learn about upcoming IRIS+ demos and sign-up for our workshop and webinars newsletter here.