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Policy Papers and Research: Innovative Finance

Four Lessons from Four Decades of Impact Investing

"Today’s fast-growing impact investing market is expected to top $300 billion by 2020. But back in 1983, when MacArthur made its first program-related investment (PRI), the practice we now call impact investing was little more than a hopeful experiment, aiming to fuel social and environmental gains. No one really knew if it could make a significant difference."

"More than 30 years have since passed. Over that time, MacArthur’s impact investing team has put more than $500 million to work in support of 240+ impact investments. By using our capital flexibly and taking unusual risk, we have helped those we support to unlock substantial flows of additional, more traditional investment – leverage totaling in the billions over the years. It’s thrilled us to see how many of the organizations we have financed have grown and thrived, delivering financial services, affordable housing, and many other benefits to tens of thousands of people in communities across the U.S. and beyond. Our experiment has yielded big dividends, making the kind of difference we hoped to achieve.

Looking back, four key lessons emerge from this long experience – lessons that continue to inform our work today as we develop new strategies to bridge tough capital gaps, extend our reach, and accelerate promising opportunities for progress and change."

Read more from the MacArthur Foundation