IMPACT IN FOCUS: Must Reads – Impact sites we’re reading now

March 15, 2018

- Emily Stoermer

As impact investing moves comfortably into the mainstream financial dialogue, a number of websites and publications have emerged in recent years, offering readers a destination to learn about issues and trends relevant to this complex and growing space. While the traditional press will often present impact investing as a new or novel concept, the publications that focus on impact investing exclusively – through news, analysis and research – tend offer far more depth around the topic and are typically tackling the same questions and issues that confront practitioners active in the space.

While the traditional press will often present impact investing as a new or novel concept, the publications that focus on impact investing exclusively tend to offer far more depth around the topic and are typically tackling the same questions and issues that confront practitioners active in the space.

While by no means exhaustive, we’ve mapped out below a list of our four “go to” resources for keeping abreast of this ever-developing topic. Some sites feature longer works such as research reports, more prominently, while others take a more blog-like approach to report on news or trends. However, all can reliably provide a sharp, informative and worthwhile read.

NextBillion

 The NextBillion blog specifically focuses on the base-of-the-pyramid segment within impact investing and chronicles new trends that can benefit the world’s four billion low-income population. An initiative of the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan that began as a blog forum in 2005, NextBillion has grown substantially in recent years and has branched out to cover financial health (dedicated to improving financial access) and health care (through the lens of highlighting the challenges and solutions in delivering care to the base of the pyramid). NextBillion also covers live news around impact investing events, such as the annual SOCAP conference in California, and features contributed blog posts from top thought leaders in the impact space. NextBillion produces an accompanying podcast with interviews related to its written content, and a calendar of upcoming impact events.

Stanford Social Innovation Review

Published by the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at Stanford University, Stanford Social Innovation Review is considered by practitioners to be a top-tier platform for thoughtful longer-form articles on global topics across the spectrum of impact investing. As described in its overview, SSIR seeks to bridge research, theory, and practice on a wide range of topics, and rather than focusing exclusively on impact will also delve into areas such as human rights or best practices employed by leading nonprofit institutions. SSIR produces content across mediums, including podcasts, webinars, conferences, and videos. But its flagship magazine, published quarterly, stands out through rich profiles on entrepreneurs and social organizations, viewpoints from leading names in the impact field, coverage of the latest research, book reviews, and news briefs on developments shaping the field.

ImpactAlpha

ImpactAlpha sets the bar for traditional impact investing news coverage and informational content. Launched by former Wall Street Journal reporter David Bank, ImpactAlpha provides news briefs, analysis and interviews and keeps readers abreast of impact dealflow.

The ImpactAlpha podcast, “Returns on Investment,” typically consists of a three-person deep-dive discussion on recent impact-driven news as well as interviews with investors, entrepreneurs and other impact leaders. It’s available free on iTunes, and is a must-listen for your commute.

Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) / Criterion Institute / US SIF

In addition to more traditional news sites and publications, as featured above, those new to impact investing can get up to speed quickly through leveraging the research and thought leadership coming out of several of the more prominent organizations dedicated to growing the awareness and reach of impact investing, such as The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) or Criterion Institute. The former, for instance, is a nonprofit organization and networking group, whereas the latter is an activist think tank whose mission is centered around gender lens investing and faith-based strategies. Both provide in-depth research that explores new thinking around impact strategies and can help practitioners better understand the broader impact landscape. GIIN’s Annual Impact Investor Survey, for instance, is typically released late spring and weaves analysis and activities of its survey respondents.

US SIF, a forum for sustainable and responsible investment, is a similar 501(c)(3) organization, whose members include investment management and advisory firms, mutual fund companies, and community investing institutions, in addition to other financial fields. The organization’s mission is to shift investment practices toward sustainability, focusing on long-term investment and the generation of positive social and environmental impacts, and as part of that goal provides research on investment trends and educational resources for all investor types.

More information on BackBay Communications’ work in impact investing can be found here.