Announcement
Announcement

The US National Advisory Board Issues Policy Recommendations To Encourage Impact Investing

June 25, 2014

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Several NAB members pledge $184 million for projects that yield social and financial ROI

WASHINGTON, DC (June 25, 2014) -- The US National Advisory Board (NAB) on Impact Investing released its report of policy recommendations to mainstream impact investing within the United States at a White House event this morning. The initiative, focused on promoting public and private innovation and entrepreneurship in solving the United States’ greatest social challenges, addresses the most catalytic changes needed from a policy standpoint. The report, Private Capital, Public Good:  How Smart Federal Policy Can Galvanize Impact Investing — and Why It’s Urgent, has been made public online at www.NABimpactinvesting.org.

“Impact investing uses the power of markets to unleash private capital for public good.  Done well, it can scale sustainable solutions to some of our toughest social challenges, such as affordable housing, clean energy, quality education, and workforce development,” said Matt Bannick, Co-Chair of the US National Advisory Board and Managing Partner at Omidyar Network. “Impact investing has been a part of the fabric of social and community development finance in the US for decades.  But we have only begun to see a glimpse of its promise, and smart public policy will help us get where we need to be. The National Advisory Board on Impact Investing has come together to offer a policy framework that can help catalyze the market and transform millions of lives in a positive way.”

Private Capital, Public Good Recommendations:

The report offers policy recommendations on opportunities in the short-term, as well as supporting policy ideas that would encourage the impact investing market over the long-term.  The recommendations are mostly budget neutral and sometimes even result in cost-savings.  They include:

  • Remove regulatory barriers to unlock private impact investment.  Innovative impact-oriented businesses are in need of investment, and unnecessary regulatory barriers stand in the way—leaving much private capital on the sidelines. For example, the IRS could further clarify and refine its rules about foundation investments in for-profit enterprises to help fill the funding gap between grants and commercial capital. This would be cost neutral.
  • Increase the effectiveness of government programs. Government agencies frequently lack the flexibility and range of tools needed to achieve social and environmental goals.  For example, Congress could revise the longstanding investment restrictions under which the Overseas Private Investment Corporation operates, so that it could participate in a wider range of impact investments, reinvest its proceeds for portfolio growth, and develop next-generation financial instruments and models.  These policies would increase the environmental and social impact of programs while lowering costs or potentially increasing revenue.
  • Provide incentives for new private impact investment. Some markets need a push to get off the ground.  By putting the first dollar on the table, government can attract private investment to support important social and environmental goals. More federal agencies should have the authority to replicate successful impact investing programs such as the Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) Fund, which marshals $20 of private capital for every $1 of federal funds invested. These policies may increase agency expenditures, but they often repay their costs over time or attract considerable private funding.
  • Support innovative impact enterprises. Every entrepreneur needs support to get off the ground.  Congress, the White House, and government agencies command powerful public platforms for spreading the word about the benefits of impact investing. They can support the development of field-building organizations.
  • Standardize metrics and improve data access. Measuring the impact is critical to the development of the impact investing field. The government can support and accelerate private sector standards while promoting open access to data. For example, development finance institutions could coordinate to create a platform that enables data sharing and due diligence, modeling their efforts after the Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) fund.

 

“Innovative strategies by government can unlock new sources of capital and significantly advance the impact investing sector,” noted Tracy Palandjian, Co-Chair of the US National Advisory Board and CEO of Social Finance US. "This report, which we present to the White House and members of Congress today, articulates these strategies, many of which are budget-neutral, and provides a roadmap to a more enabling policy environment at the federal, state and local levels."

NAB Members Commit $184 Million in Impact Investments

Several impact investment pledges were also announced this morning at the White House including a number of commitments from members of the US National Advisory Board. Those pledges include:  

  • Omidyar Network $100 million:  Omidyar Network is committing $100 million in early-stage risk capital over the next three years to new impact investments that will create opportunity in their key initiatives including financial inclusion, education, and consumer Internet and mobile technologies in order to create a world of positive returns. Guided by the principles of individual access, connection, and ownership, Omidyar Network is excited to build upon ten years of investing in entrepreneurs developing critical innovations that can improve the lives of millions worldwide.
  • Case Foundation $50 million:  As a reflection of their belief that complex social challenges can best be addressed through multi-sector approaches, Jean and Steve Case commit to increasing the Case Foundation’s focus on accelerating the growth of the impact investing sector, including by investing $50 million in impact-focused funds.
  • MacArthur Foundation $25 million:  Investment to support the launch and scaling of several innovative energy efficiency financing programs specifically designed to meet the challenges and needs of multifamily housing in the US. Projected impacts will include significant carbon footprint reductions for some of the country’s least energy efficient buildings, as well as improved long-term rental affordability for low-income families, seniors and individuals with special needs, such as veterans and the formerly homeless. The MacArthur Foundation has made $400 million in program-related investments to 200 organizations worldwide since 1986.
  • Ford Foundation $9 million:  Funding to increase economic mobility and opportunity of low-income families in the United States. This investment would expand and create equitable and affordable housing with access to transit in the Denver metropolitan region; address financial gaps in the Appalachian region to spur development and create jobs; and finance innovative health care models throughout low-income communities with a focus on creating high-caliber health-sector jobs. Spurring development has been at the core of the foundation’s program-related investments totaling $625 million in anchor funding since it began in 1968.

 

Formation of the US National Advisory Board on Impact Investing

The US National Advisory Board’s work is part of a global effort that was initiated at the June 2013 G8 meetings in London to explore how impact investing can accelerate economic growth and solve the world’s most pressing social challenges. At that time the Social Impact Task Force (Task Force) was created and charged with recommending policies to accelerate impact investing, establish a common global approach for measuring social outcomes, and encourage greater engagement across foundations, institutions and private investors with input from the G8 countries. The US National Advisory Board on Impact Investing was formed to coordinate with and advise the global effort while actively reaching out to key stakeholders and communities to get feedback, ideas and input about what policy changes are necessary to drive social impact investing in the United States.

The policy recommendations contained within the report are focused on executive and legislative strategies for updating existing regulations and laws to make it easier for social impact investors to work with government agencies. Although the policies are focused on opportunities at the federal level, the report does intentionally include both examples and opportunities at the state and local level.

The NAB is comprised of 27 thought leaders including private investors, entrepreneurs, foundations, academics, think tanks, impact enterprises, nonprofits, coalitions and intermediaries, including:

Matt Bannick, Omidyar Network (co-chair); Tracy Palandjian, Social Finance US (co-chair); Antony Bugg-Levine, Nonprofit Finance Fund; Jean Case, Case Foundation; David Chen, Equilibrium Capital; Audrey Choi, Morgan Stanley; Maya Chorengel, Elevar Equity; Cathy Clark, Duke University; Kimberlee Cornett, Kresge Foundation; William Foster, Bridgespan Group; Seth Goldman, Honest Tea; John Goldstein, Imprint Capital; Josh Gotbaum, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp; Michelle Greene, NYSE Euronext; Sean Greene, Revolution; Ben Hecht, Living Cities; Andrew Kassoy, B Lab; Zia Khan, The Rockefeller Foundation; Clara Miller, Heron Foundation; Elizabeth Littlefield, Overseas Private Investment Corporation; Stewart Paparin, Soros Economic Development Fund; Andrea Phillips, Goldman Sachs; Luther Ragin, Global Impact Investing Network; Curtis Ravenel, Bloomberg LP; Harold Rosen, Grassroots Business Fund; Debra Schwartz, MacArthur Foundation; and Darren Walker, Ford Foundation.

After presenting the report at the White House and to members of Congress on June 25, the US National Advisory Board will focus on sharing its recommendations with the impact investing community in the US and feeding its recommendations into the broader Task Force’s efforts. The Social Impact Investment Task Force is expected to meet again in September to review a global proposal with input from each member country.

The report can be viewed at www.NABimpactinvesting.org.

About the NAB

The US National Advisory Board (NAB) to the Global Social Impact Investment Taskforce aims to catalyze the development of the global social impact investment market. It was established following the June 2013 G8 Social Impact Investment Forum in London. The NAB was formed to focus on the US domestic policy agenda. The NAB is comprised of 27 thought leaders, including private investors, entrepreneurs, foundations, academics, impact-oriented organizations, nonprofits, and intermediaries. 

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