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Impact Investing

New White Paper Reveals Gaps and Opportunities in Social Impact Investing

NEW YORK, NY – Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, a leader in impact investing and social justice grantmaking, has released the findings from its seven-month-long search for an impact investment advisor, shedding new light on this ever-evolving field. 

“While there is growing interest in and demand for social impact investing, there is very little documentation of how investment advisors operate, leaving social impact investors with few tools to navigate that space,” said Steven Godeke, Board Chair of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation. “Our white paper is an attempt to demystify the sector—and build greater accountability—by surfacing the themes that emerged from our open inquiry to the impact advisor community.” 

The white paper, titled “Building Power Across the Impact Investment Field,” offers full transparency on the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation’s overall search process, including the historical context behind the foundation’s impact investments, the questions that were posed to the investment advisor community (with a deliberate lens on gender, race, and inclusion), its evaluation criteria for selecting a firm, and recommendations for foundations interested in taking similar steps. 

The paper synthesizes a number of findings gleaned from 34 responses to Noyes Foundation’s Open Call for Letters of Interest. "We were pleased to see so many thoughtful responses,” said Lenora Suki, Finance Committee Chair of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation. “Still, the industry's understanding of impact investing ranges widely. Investment products have grown but we need new products to fill gaps across asset classes." 

Another significant finding is the apparent shortage of women- and minority-led firms, leading to a dearth of expertise on how to address gender and racial equality through investments. The report also points to some promising opportunities, including the accelerating pace of innovation in the field, and the important role that philanthropies can play in advancing the sector, through knowledge sharing, collaborative investments, and shareholder advocacy. 

 “Our hope is that this paper will inspire anyone managing foundation endowments to explore opportunities for mission-aligned investing to generate long-term systemic change,” said Interim Executive Director Rini Banerjee. “We invite the sector to join us in this investment journey to regenerate our land, invest in people-powered solutions, and build stronger, more sustainable communities.” 

“Building Power Across the Impact Investment Field” is available for download at https://www.noyesadvisorsearch.org/