Data & Intelligence

Brief: The US National Advisory Board Outlines Policy Recommendations Aimed at Promoting Impact Investing

On June 25, 2014, The US National Advisory Board (NAB) on Impact Investing released its official report to the White House and members of Congress. The report, Private Capital, Public Good: How Smart Federal Policy Can Galvanize Impact Investing—and Why It’s Urgent, provides US domestic policy recommendations aimed at supporting the growth of impact investing. The full report is available at www.NABimpactinvesting.org.

The US National Advisory Board on Impact Investing

The US National Advisory Board’s work is part of a global effort that commenced at the June 2013 G8 meetings in London aimed at exploring how impact investing can accelerate economic growth and address some of society’s most important issues. At its inception, the Social Impact Task Force (Task Force) was formed and charged with recommending policies to promote impact investing, establish a standardized approach for measuring social outcomes, and encourage enhanced engagement across stakeholder groups including, 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 broader effort, while aggregating feedback and input from key stakeholder groups on policy changes needed to drive social impact investing in the United States.

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, The Case Foundation; David Chen, Equilibrium Capital; Audrey Choi, Morgan Stanley; Maya Chorengel, Elevar Equity; Cathy Clark, Duke University; Kimberlee Cornett, Kresge Foundation; William Foster, The 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, F.B. 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, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; and Darren Walker, Ford Foundation.

EMPEA Impact Investing Council

The US NAB’s effort to support impact investing aligns with many of EMPEA’s Impact Investing Council members’ interests.

EMPEA is delighted to acknowledge the following Impact Investing Council members who participated in the broader G7 task force and its working groups, consultations with the NAB, and the development of the reports:

  • Amy Bell, J.P. Morgan Social Finance
  • Monica Brand, Accion
  • Pat Dinneen, EMPEA, Impact Investing Council Chair
  • Mike Kubzansky, Omidyar Network
  • Vineet Rai, Aavishkaar
  • Julie Sunderland, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Amy Bell, Monica Brand and Pat Dinneen were involved in the research and/or consultation process that informed the US NAB report. While Mike Kubzansky and Vineet Rai served as members on the International Development working group, and Julie Sunderland served on the Asset Allocation working group.

Commenting on the report, Matt Bannick, Co-Chair of the US National Advisory Board and Managing Partner at Omidyar Network said, “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.¹ ” EMPEA agrees with this sentiment and looks forward to continuing its engagement with private equity practitioners pursuing market-based solutions to impact investing through the EMPEA Impact Investing Council.

Report Recommendations 

The policy recommendations outlined in the report are focused on strategies for making laws and regulations easier for social impact investors to work with government agencies. The report provides examples and opportunities for this across all levels of the government, at the federal, state and local levels. They include²:

  • Removing 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.
  • Increasing 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.
  • Providing 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.
  • Supporting 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.
  • Standardizing metrics and improving 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.

Next Steps

Since the June 25 launch of the report, the US NAB continues advocacy, education and dissemination efforts with policy makers, private sector and impact investing industry. The US NAB also advises Matt Bannick in his capacity as the US private sector representative to the Task Force, which is preparing a global report to be released September 15. National Advisory Reports from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the UK as well as the Working Groups will also be issuing reports this fall. The Task Force meets next at the end of October in Rome. For more information about the Task Force: https://srv/app/empea/htdocs/web.gov.uk/government/ groups/social-impact-investment-taskforce.

Readers are encouraged to continue the conversation by posting comments on the Task Force's website, www.nabimpactinvesting.org/comments/share. Additional report resources are available at www.NABimpactinvesting.org.

1. “The US National Advisory Board Issues Policy Recommendations To Encourage Impact Investing” | Omidyar Network. The US National Advisory Board Issues Policy Recommendations To Encourage Impact Investing | Omidyar Network. http://srv/app/empea/htdocs/web.omidyar.com/news/us-national-advisory-board-issues-policy-recommendations-encourage-impact-investing (accessed July 21, 2014).

2. “The US National Advisory Board Issues Policy Recommendations To Encourage Impact Investing” | Omidyar Network. The US National Advisory Board Issues Policy Recommendations To Encourage Impact Investing | Omidyar Network. http://srv/app/empea/htdocs/web.omidyar.com/news/us-national-advisoryboard- issues-policy-recommendations-encourage-impact-investing (accessed July 21, 2014).

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