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Making the Mark

Benchmarking Impact Management Practice

Taking a deeper dive

In this fourth annual Making the Mark report, the BlueMark team takes a deeper dive into those impact management practices that are most (or least) common among different segments of the impact and sustainable investing market.

With our largest sample size to date, we are able to cut and slice our data to generate tailored benchmarks and insights to help improve investor decision-making and optimize capital allocation towards impact.

“The expanded dataset in this year’s Making the Mark report reveals an increasingly diverse range of impact investors across asset classes and strategies, reflecting growing adoption of impact management standards across investor types.”
— Christina Leijonhufvud, CEO of BlueMark

Making the Mark 2023

84
verifications
FOR INVESTORs
managing
a combined
$ 209 B
IMPACT AUM

Leaderboard of investors

The BlueMark Practice Leaderboard was created as a way to highlight those impact investors with best-in-class impact management practices. To earn a spot on the Leaderboard, verified investors must receive top quartile ratings across each of the Impact Principles in the Benchmark for that year.

Only impact investors that have been verified within the previous two years will be eligible for each year’s Leaderboard to ensure that investors are continuously reassessed against the current state of the market.

AgDevCo
VERIFIED June 2021 ASSET CLASS Private Equity, Private Debt IMPACT THEMES
  • Sustainable Agriculture

Verification statement (TBA)

Bain Capital Double Impact
VERIFIED April 2023 ASSET CLASS Private Equity IMPACT THEMES
  • Health & Wellness
  • Education & Workforce Development
  • Sustainability
Blue Earth Capital
VERIFIED Feb. 2023 ASSET CLASS Private Equity, Private Debt, Funds IMPACT THEMES
  • Multi-theme
British International Investment
VERIFIED June 2022 ASSET CLASS Private Equity, Private Debt, Funds IMPACT THEMES
  • Productive, Sustainable and Inclusive
Calvert Impact Capital
VERIFIED April 2023 ASSET CLASS Private Debt IMPACT THEMES
  • Access to Community Service
  • Financial Inclusion
  • Climate Change
Finance in Motion
VERIFIED Nov. 2021 ASSET CLASS Private and Public Debt, Private Equity IMPACT THEMES
  • Green Economy
  • Climate Finance
  • Entrepreneurship & Livelihoods
  • Financial Inclusion
LeapFrog Investments
VERIFIED Jan. 2023 ASSET CLASS Private Equity IMPACT THEMES
  • Financial Inclusion
  • Healthcare
  • Climate Solutions
Nuveen (Private Equity Impact)
VERIFIED June 2022 ASSET CLASS Private Equity IMPACT THEMES
  • Resource Efficiency
  • Inclusive Growth
Nuveen (Fixed Income Impact)
VERIFIED June 2022 ASSET CLASS Public Debt IMPACT THEMES
  • Affordable Housing
  • Community & Economic Development
  • Renewable Energy & Climate Change
  • Natural Resources
Trill Impact
VERIFIED Jan. 2022 ASSET CLASS Private Equity, Private Debt IMPACT THEMES
  • Multi-theme (SDG-aligned impact)

The size of our sample

This year’s “Making the Mark” report is based on 84 verifications for 75 impact investors managing a combined $209.4 billion in impact-oriented assets under management.

Investor Type (N=84)

How investors identify themselves

38 27 12 7
  • Asset Managers (Diversified)
  • Asset Managers (Impact-only)
  • Development Finance Institutions (DFI)
  • Other (e.g., Family Office, Foundation, Wealth Manager)

Asset Class (N=166)

Which asset classes investors are prioritizing

  • Private Equity (Growth)
  • Private Debt
  • Private Equity (Venture Capital)
  • Private Equity (Buyout)
  • Real Assets
  • Other
  • Public Debt
  • Public Equity
54
31
25
22
14
10
6
4
54
31
25
22
14
10
6
4

Geography (N=202)

Where investors are deploying their capital

39

38

45

8

3

37

32

Client spotlights

Learn more about best practices through these case studies on innovations in impact management featuring impact investors recently verified by BlueMark.

Franklin Templeton

Driving impact in real assets

Schroders Asset Management

Investing for impact in public equities

Summa Equity

Linking impact management to quality impact reporting

FullCycle Climate Partners

Managing for climate mitigation impacts

Key findings

See which impact management practices are most common among investors, and which practices still present a challenge for the field.

34 %
impact-linked incentives

The adoption of staff-incentive systems linked to impact remains limited, with only 31% of BlueMark-verified impact management systems explicitly integrating impact considerations into staff incentives. The most common approach at 25% is through annual staff performance reviews related to impact, including a subset of 15% that make the link explicit through variable pay and bonus structures, however, only 7% of the market has linked their impact performance to carried interest.

55 %
assessment of impact risks

55% of investors include an analysis of impact risk in due diligence, however investors tend to focus their assessments on the likelihood of impact occurring (“execution risk”) rather than assessing potential negative impacts (“unexpected impact risk”). In fact, only 24% of investors include a standardized assessment of negative impacts as part of their process, which suggests the market has more work to do when accounting for potential negative externalities in due diligence.

33 %
stakeholder engagement

Less than a third of investors (32%) are engaging with target stakeholders and actively soliciting their input to validate outcomes alongside investee data. While still a minority practice, a slight increase compared to last year’s research sample shows that soliciting input from end-stakeholders experiencing the impact outcomes will become a key part of effective impact management and monitoring.

27 %
impact at exit

27% of investors are taking consistent actions to ensure sustainable impact creation, while just more than half of investors (60%) have a policy or approach in place to consider the sustainability of impact at and beyond exit. This suggests there is a long way to go before impact considerations take equal precedence to financial considerations and investors proactively identify actions to preserve impact as part of exit strategies. Given exit practices range broadly across asset class contexts, additional norms and consensus best practice across investment strategies will be required for this market practice to continue to improve.

Making the Mark 2023 report

See more data and insights about impact investing best practices, trends, and challenges in the full report.

Data snapshots

To help spotlight differences between different segments of the market, we’ve created several custom data snapshots to allow users to interact directly with the data. The snapshots show what percentage of investors are executing a specific impact practice, based on the sample size of investors verified by BlueMark to date.

  • Are asset allocators more likely than asset managers to align staff incentive systems with impact performance?
  • Are managers of social-focused strategies more likely to solicit input from stakeholders than climate-focused strategies?
  • Are private markets strategies more likely to have an approach to sustaining impact at exit than public markets strategies?
  • Investor Type
  • Asset Class
  • Impact Theme
Variation from Median based on +/- 10%
  • > +10%
  • < -10%
Variation from Median based on +/- 10%
  • > +10%
  • < -10%
Investment stage IMPACT PRACTICE Median
N=84
Impact-Only
Managers
n=38
Conventional
Managers
n=27
DFIs
n=12
Private Equity
n=65
Private Debt
n=31
Real Assets
n=14
Social
n=36
Climate / Environmental
n=44
Multi theme / Theme Agnostic
n=13
Strategic Intent Create a fund-level theory of change with supporting evidence 60% 58% 52% 67% 57% 65% 71% 61% 55% 62%
Align staff incentive systems with impact performance 31% 34% 15% 58% 31% 39% 14% 31% 32% 23%
Impact Due Diligence Use a composite impact scoring or rating tool to assess impact across the portfolio 29% 34% 19% 42% 29% 29% 43% 31% 30% 39%
Assess all fundamental components of potential impact for each investment 49% 47% 52% 33% 43% 52% 43% 50% 43% 69%
Impact Monitoring and Measurement Actively manage and engage on ESG risks with investees 52% 45% 56% 75% 51% 71% 50% 56% 61% 69%
Consistently monitor impact data against expectations or a target 60% 61% 63% 50% 58% 68% 64% 69% 61% 39%
Track and monitor results of investor contribution activities 23% 21% 19% 33% 20% 23% 29% 22% 20% 31%
Solicit data from end-stakeholders to validate outcomes 32% 34% 33% 25% 29% 26% 29% 31% 27% 46%
Impact at Exit Have an approach to sustaining impact at exit 60% 66% 52% 50% 52% 55% 64% 58% 50% 62%
Use impact review findings to improve processes 39% 37% 41% 42% 39% 39% 50% 47% 36% 54%
Investment stage Strategic Intent Impact Due Diligence Impact Monitoring and Measurement Impact at Exit
IMPACT PRACTICE Create a fund-level theory of change with supporting evidence Align staff incentive systems with impact performance Use a composite impact scoring or rating tool to assess impact across the portfolio Assess all fundamental components of potential impact for each investment Actively manage and engage on ESG risks with investees Consistently monitor impact data against expectations or a target Track and monitor results of investor contribution activities Solicit data from end-stakeholders to validate outcomes Have an approach to sustaining impact at exit Use impact review findings to improve processes
Median
N=84
60% 31% 29% 49% 52% 60% 23% 32% 60% 39%
Impact-Only
Managers
n=38
58% 34% 34% 47% 45% 61% 21% 34% 66% 37%
Conventional
Managers
n=27
52% 15% 19% 52% 56% 63% 19% 33% 52% 41%
DFIs
n=12
67% 58% 42% 33% 75% 50% 33% 25% 50% 42%
Private Equity
n=65
57% 31% 29% 43% 51% 58% 20% 29% 52% 39%
Private Debt
n=31
65% 39% 29% 52% 71% 68% 23% 26% 55% 39%
Real Assets
n=14
71% 14% 43% 43% 50% 64% 29% 29% 64% 50%
Social
n=36
61% 31% 31% 50% 56% 69% 22% 31% 58% 47%
Climate / Environmental
n=44
55% 32% 30% 43% 61% 61% 20% 27% 50% 36%
Multi theme / Theme Agnostic
n=13
62% 23% 39% 69% 69% 39% 31% 46% 62% 54%