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How to Start Impact Investing

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Investing for social and environmental impact is growing in popularity as individuals, institutions, and businesses look for ways to align their values with their investments. Impact investing cropped up in the early 2000s as a way to bridge the gap between philanthropy and traditional investing. Rather than simply donating money to causes, impact investors seek to achieve a positive social or environmental impact while also earning a financial return on their investment.

There are a number of ways to get started in impact investing. Individuals can start by doing research on companies and funds that align with their values. Many major banks and investment firms now offer impact investing products, so it’s becoming easier to find options that fit different budgets and risk tolerances. But what exactly is impact investing, and how can you get started?

Step One

Develop a Vision

The key here is to determine exactly how impact investing can benefit you. There are many reasons to consider impact investing, but not every reason will resonate with you personally. 

To help yourself answer this question, consider what type of investments you’re interested in—and be creative. Do you want to make a positive impact on the environment, or on social change, or both? Do you want to live in a world where 100% of vehicles are AI driven or carbon neutral? 

Shift Focus To Your Goals

Once you’ve finished brainstorming, shift your focus to your goals. What does success with impact investing look like to you? What type of returns are you looking for? 

 

With your vision outlined, it’s time to move on to the next step. However, it’s completely normal to come back to your vision later, and you should allow yourself to make changes as you navigate through this guide.

Step Two

Develop a Strategy

In the last step, you were told to get creative. In step two we’re going to turn off our imagination, as it’s now time to develop a strategy that is realistic to your circumstance. Every investor comes from a unique background and thus every investor needs a unique investment strategy. At this point, you may wish to stop and bring your vision to an investment advisor, as this plan should be actionable and precise. 

A socially responsible investing advisor will help you to understand how to make the most of your money without sacrificing your values. They will also take into account things like your age, investment goals, and risk tolerance to tailor a strategy that’s just right for you.

As you develop your plan, consider your expectations and your current reality. What are your return expectations? Will you be prioritizing impact investments, and if you are, are you willing to make below-market rates? Do you plan on taking the reins, or will you use an advisor? 

Remember the goal here is to create an actionable plan that allows you to take strides forward, learn from your mistakes, and succeed in the long term. 

Step Three

Develop Measurable Goals

Going back to your vision, when setting goals, it is important to choose objectives that can be measured. This way, you can track your progress and gauge whether you are making the progress you want to achieve. Therefore, you need to decide how you will measure the success of your investment through financial returns. If you’ve chosen to use an impact investment advisor, you may not need to answer this question.

However, with Impact Investing, financial returns are not the only thing to consider. Instead, you need to think about social and environmental impact alongside a financial return as well. For example, you might want to invest in a company that is working to develop clean energy solutions. In this case, you would measure the success of your investment not only by the financial return but also by the environmental impact of the company’s products or services.

Step Four

Management Strategy

As with any investing, it’s important to consider your risk tolerance when choosing where to put your money. Impact investing is no different. However, there are some unique risks to be aware of. For example, investments in small companies or startups may be more volatile than those in larger, more established firms. Additionally, impact investments can often be illiquid, meaning you may have a harder time selling your investment when you want or need to.

Before making any decisions, it’s crucial that you understand the risks involved. Once you have a good handle on the risks, you can develop a management strategy that fits your needs. For example, you might choose to diversify your portfolio by investing in a mix of companies of different sizes across different sectors. Or, you might choose to limit your investments to a certain region or country.

The key here is to find a strategy that allows you to sleep at night while still meeting your financial goals.

Once you have all of the steps above in place, it’s time to put your plan into action. The best way to do this is by starting small and gradually increasing your investment as you become more comfortable with the process.

Remember, Impact Investing is a marathon, not a sprint. By taking the time to develop a solid plan and start small, you’ll be on your way to making a positive impact while still earning a healthy return on your investment.

Looking for more information?

If you’re using an advisor, check out our previous blog post, Are you asking your investment advisor the right questions?

Step Five

Invest

Now that you have a detailed and actionable plan, it’s time to start making investments. But keep in mind that the planning process isn’t over yet. As you execute your plan, you may need to make adjustments along the way. That’s perfectly normal. Don’t try to get everything perfect from the outset. Be flexible and allow your plan to evolve as you get more information and experience. Trust your advisor’s guidance, but also trust your own instincts. With a little bit of effort and flexibility, you can make your responsible investing plan a success.

So, now that you’ve got your plan, it’s time to consider one last thing: how you’ll share your story and how you’ll mobilize other impact investors to take on environmental, social and governance challenges. 

Get an In-Depth Look at Impact Investing With a Help of a Professional

If you would like to get a more in-depth look at how to start impact investing, consider working with an advisor who specializes in this area. At Changemakers, we have a team of experienced professionals who can help you develop a personalized plan and get started on the path to success.

Contact Changemakers today to learn more about our Impact Investing and how you can get involved.

Start Investing Confidently

We can connect you with a socially and environmentally responsible investment advisor so you can put savings away while investing in companies dedicated to saving the planet.