The Ford Foundation recently made headlines for announcing plans to move $1 Billion of its endowment to impact investing. While I celebrate their move, I'm also left wondering what keeps others on the sidelines.
In the community of people who love Jesus and are stewarding large sums of charitable capital it seems there are two major issues standing in the way of broader adoption: (i) lack of a clear and unified understanding of the role impact investing could play in faith-based initiatives; and (ii) lack of documented evidence - i.e., metrics - that these types of investments accomplish kingdom good and produce adequate financial return.
Over the next few blogs, we'll explore these issues including a definition of the term "kingdom impact investing". But first...
Can’t We find a Better Term?
Nope. Wish we could. Please tell us if you can find one that will get broadly adopted.
"Impact investing" may be a buzzword that fizzles out in a few years, but for now it's the dominate phrase in the industry to describe investing to achieve aims beyond simple financial gain. A google search of the phrase "impact investing" returns 12,900,000 results. Case closed (for now).
Those of us working to bring the practice to Christian investors agree that we need a unique word or phrase to distinguish the practice of seeking spiritual good along with social and environmental. Rather than invent a wholly new phrase, it seems wise to add a simple modifier in front of “impact investing”. No one can agree which word – kingdom, Christian, spiritual, Gospel, godly, or evangelical – is the least bad. For purposes of moving on to the definition and metrics we're going with “kingdom impact investing,” but we're certainly open to other suggestions.
"Kingdom" in our usage refers to the kingdom of God, as Jesus described it in His teachings. Not every follower of Jesus is comfortable with this phrase. For some it feels too "Evangelical". Others say it's a phrase for Southerners. I just know Jesus used the word a lot to paint a picture of the world rightly oriented to God. A world of peace, justice, beauty, equity, celebration. A world so valuable that once discovered, a man would sell everything he had just to be a part of it. For us at Impact Foundation, the hope of this Kingdom drives everything we do. Thus, it seems a suitable adjective to differentiate our version of "impact investing."