Matt Patsky, CFA, CEO
It is exciting for me personally and for Trillium to be involved in the emergence of Impact Investing as a vital piece of the larger Sustainable and Responsible Investing (SRI) industry.
I recently had the privilege of attending both the Skoll World Forum and the Social Venture Network’s spring conference. These organizations, among so many others, are working to find innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. While attending the Forum, I also had the opportunity to meet briefly with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who was one of the keynote speakers. The Archbishop spoke appreciatively of the work of Shared Interest, a fund that invests in South Africa’s future. The Forum also featured a screening of a short film documenting Ceres’ history of addressing sustainability challenges such as global climate change.
As shareowners, SRI practitioners have actively raised social and environmental concerns to companies, engaging with corporate America to create change. It is our experience that most companies (like most people) have a mixed record of strengths and weaknesses, and many of them prove open to overtures from concerned shareowners.
As a part of SRI, impact investors specifically invest in companies and organizations that can generate financial returns as well as an intentional social or environmental goal.
For nearly 30 years, Trillium has offered its clients the ability to achieve this impact by investing a portion of their assets through our Community Investing portfolio. Our clients have partnered with domestic and international loan funds, as well as venture funds, to provide capital for affordable housing development, small business creation, childcare centers, sustainable agriculture cooperatives and renewable energy companies among other social and geographic issues. These investments provide loans and financial services to individuals and community organizations that traditional commercial banks often fail to serve.
Even with the incredible momentum of impact investing, there remains a lack of transparency and standardization in how funds define, track, and report social and environmental performance. This limits the ability of investors to understand the impact of their investments.
Trillium supports the efforts of the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), an organization that is committed to increasing the effectiveness of impact investing. To address these challenges, GIIN is expanding upon work initiated by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Acumen Fund, and B Lab to develop and promote a common framework for reporting the performance of impact investments.
As it reaches scale, impact investing will continue to be a powerful complement to philanthropy and government efforts to address many issues including eradication of disease, stabilization of climate change and provision of basic social services. From our earliest days, Trillium has been a leader in helping our clients participate in community/impact investing. Trillium is committed to expanding our clients’ ability to invest in market-based solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.
Matt Patsky, CFA, CEO