The following is a conversation between Fran Seegull, Executive Director of The US Impact Investing Alliance, and Denver Frederick, the host of The Business of Giving.

Fran Seegull, Executive Director of The US Impact Investing Alliance

Denver: The U.S. Impact Investing Alliance is a field-building organization committed to raising awareness of impact investing in the United States, fostering deployment of impact capital, and working with stakeholders to help build the impact investing ecosystem. And here to tell us about all of that, as well as what’s happening in this field during this time of crisis is Fran Seegull, the Executive Director of The U.S. Impact Investing Alliance.

Welcome to the Business of Giving, Fran! 

Fran: Denver, so happy to be with you today. 

At the Alliance, we believe that the future of investing is impact investing because every investment has an impact… we think the path forward is to pursue a future where we actively measure and manage positive impact outcomes, but also mitigate negative impact outcomes.

Denver: Let’s start by having you tell us a little bit about the history of the organization and the work that you do. 

Fran: Happy to. I serve currently as Executive Director of The U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, which is a nonprofit organization — and you touched on it in your opener — dedicated to building the practice and field of impact investing. And I thought we could speak a little bit about what impact investing is just to root the conversation in that. 

 We consider impact investing to be investing for positive and measurable social, economic, and environmental impact alongside risk and financial return. So, we look at risk, return, and impact.  We consider the full spectrum of investments — so investments across asset classes, across geographies, domestic, emerging markets, global — with a range of strategies. So impact investing could be anything from investing in publicly traded securities with a focus on environmental, social, or governance issues, called ESG investing; or it could be direct investments into private impact enterprises in emerging markets like Distributed Solar in Kenya or Microfinance in India, and everything in between.

At the Alliance, we believe that the future of investing is impact investing because every investment has an impact. It could be positive or it could be negative, but we think the path forward is to pursue a future where we actively measure and manage positive impact outcomes, but also mitigate negative impact outcomes like pollution and other negative — what an economist would call “negative externalities.” We really see a growing appetite for transparency. So, again, all investment has impact, but it’s largely opaque to the investor, and so we see a world where that is more transparent.

Specifically, the Alliance and where the Alliance plays is across three pillars. 

The first is public policy. So creating an enabling public policy environment for impact investing, or what we also call “private capital for public good.” We work with institutional asset owners. We work deeply with charitable asset owners like foundations and donor-advised funds. And finally, we try to build a broader movement and practice of impact investing through educational efforts and awareness-raising. 

We collaborate with a lot of different stakeholders across the ecosystem. I mentioned private foundations and donor-advised funds, but also high-net-worth families that practice impact investing, financial institutions, asset managers, and policymakers.

So, for example, we convene a group called The Presidents’ Council on Impact Investing, which is a group of the presidents of 19 leading US foundations that practice impact investing and seek to deepen their own practice, but also explore how to partner together to build the field. 

Darren Walker, who’s the president of the Ford Foundation serves as a chair of The Presidents’ Council. This group has about $80 billion under assets management. We partner with many other organizations. 

Denver: Let me pick up on a couple of things you said.  I know it’s impossible to generalize, but who is an impact investor? Are they strictly institutions, or are there individuals? Are they more Republicans or Democrats? Are they young investors, old investors? Give us a look as to who is the impact investor.   

Fran: The impact investing ecosystem is a range, from asset owners, which I think is what you’re asking about, namely investors who deploy their capital for impact alongside financial returns. We also have a lot of other players like fund managers, and investment banks, and wealth advisors. And, of course, the companies themselves are the ones that deliver the impact that we seek.  

And so, the field has really grown in recent years. There’s a group called the Global Impact Investing Network, and they release a survey every year. Its 2020 Impact Investor Survey reported that the total global market for intentional impact investments, as I defined it earlier, is about $715 billion, up from an estimate of $500 billion just about 18 months ago. And so the term impact investing was coined about 10 years ago, but the practice of impact investing has been going on since certainly the ’70s, but really for centuries. Religious investors pioneered this idea of socially responsible investing. 

And what we see is that asset owners like foundations, pension funds, university endowments, insurance companies, the institutional asset owners, alongside high-net-worth families, and even retail investors are getting into the mix. We started seeing different kinds of players– asset managers, mainstream asset managers– getting into the mix, like BlackRock, State Street, Vanguard, Fidelity, and even leading private equity firms. So, the field is really scaling and mainstreaming or has been mainstreaming over time.

…building field infrastructure and encouraging all who deploy impact capital to support that infrastructure, we believe, is really important. 

Denver: You’ve mentioned a few times “the field.” So I want to ask you a little bit about the field-building work that you do and why it is so important to do it intentionally. 

Fran: Yes. So we are a field-building organization ourselves, and we are passionate about the fact that there are a set of almost, I would consider them to be, public goods that allow impact capital to flow with integrity.

I talked a moment ago about the mainstreaming of impact investing and the BlackRocks and the KKRs and the Bain Capitals getting into the act. Well, we welcome those mainstream actors coming into the field. There are these lingering questions about how to prevent “impact washing” and how to ensure transparency and integrity regarding how the money flows. And so, building field infrastructure and encouraging all who deploy impact capital to support that infrastructure, we believe, is really important

So here we’re thinking about things like public engagement and public policy, movement-building and communications. We also think about data metrics and measurement: How do we quantify? How do we measure?  How do we report, disclose the impact of investments? And we also think about learning tools and talents. So that could be anything from network organizations to trainings and convenings. We know that all kinds of industries support these types of public goods, but the impact investing field has been really lagging in supporting the infrastructure. 

And the question is, as we pass these various milestones of growth that I’ve talked about earlier, as we see more mainstream asset managers getting into the mix, our members, and particularly The Presidents’ Council on Impact Investing that I touched on earlier, we started to wonder if the infrastructure that supports the market is prepared to grow at the pace that we needed to in the coming years to assure impact integrity.

And so, it was really this concern and the highly concentrated level of funding of impact investing field-building among a handful of private foundations and even fewer high-net-worth families, it felt like the field was really vulnerable if any of these foundations decided to change their philanthropic priorities at a time when the market is growing. And so, the precariousness of that situation led The Presidents’ Council to incubate this donor collaborative called the Tipping Point Fund on Impact Investing, which I’m happy to chat about if it’s something we should…

Denver: Before we get into that though,  I want to ask you one question.  As other actors get into this space, is there any legal requirement or any kind of threshold that an investment has to meet to be called an impact investment? Or can really, essentially, anybody just slap that label on any old investment they want?

Fran: That’s a great question. And right now, the impact investing market, the practice of ESG investing — environmental, social, and governance investing — in the public markets is not regulated. The SEC is starting to look at standards for ESG, so kind of truth-in-advertising, if you will. 

Currently, there are no legal or regulatory requirements to disclose the impact of investments, or for companies to disclose their impact. We see a lot of voluntary disclosure. So, the vast, vast majority of publicly traded companies… the largest global companies issue sustainability reports, but there are no standards, and their claims are unverified and unaudited. And so, as we seek to scale the field with integrity, we’ll be looking to public policy and the regulatory environment as we seek more standardized, comparable impact disclosure. 

The other thing I will say just briefly, and it touches on fiduciary duty, is increasingly we’re seeing, and that bears out for foundations, those trustees or fiduciaries, pension fund fiduciaries, university endowment fiduciaries, all work to benefit the beneficiaries and also to maximize return and contain costs. 

What we see over time is that these ESG factors that I mentioned are material. So, an example might be for a fossil fuel company, how they are approaching climate change is absolutely and financially material and relevant to risk. And so what we’re seeing over time is that responsible fiduciaries are taking these factors into account, but right now, it’s not mandated, which I think is the point you’re getting at. 

Denver: The Tipping Point Fund — tell us about it, and what are the funding gaps it is designed to address?

Fran: I mentioned earlier this precarious state of funding for the field and field infrastructure. And so, The Presidents’ Council on Impact Investing incubated a donor collaborative called the Tipping Point Fund on Impact Investing. Donor collaboratives are newer vehicles, I would say, and rising in popularity–where a group of donors that have a joint philanthropic objective pool their assets and grantmaking together. 

And so, the Tipping Point Fund on Impact Investing is an example of a donor collaborative. It was launched late in 2019, and it was aimed at supporting the growth of the impact investing field through strategic grantmaking. 

And so, in terms of the areas of focus, we did a very rigorous market landscape assessment of the impact investing field and looked at some of the opportunities, but also a bunch of the barriers. We tried to understand which ones are best suited to precious grant capital, versus which challenges would the markets solve on its own. Then, we sifted those challenges for ones that were best suited to a collaborative philanthropic approach. 

And also, with this particular group of 11 donors, they really have a kind of almost moral authority or influence over the market. And so, the two areas that we decided to focus on were chronically underfunded priorities that met the criteria for public goods. The first area is public engagement and public policy, and the second is data metrics and measurements. 

We believe at the Alliance, and also the Tipping Point Fund on Impact Investing, that impact investing is inherently bipartisan. So no matter the outcome of the upcoming election in November, we believe that the role of the private sector and the impact investors in creating positive social, economic, and environmental impact will continue to be relevant. 

Denver: And you had your first round of grants, right, this past July? 

Fran: We did indeed. We had an RFP process for public policy in 2019 and early 2020. And just in July last month, we announced the first cohort of public policy grantees for the Tipping Point Fund on Impact Investing. 

We felt that the 2020 elections would bring a great deal of energy around policy formation, and we wanted to harness that energy. We believe — and it was embedded in one of your earlier questions that I actually didn’t answer — we believe at the Alliance, and also the Tipping Point Fund on Impact Investing, that impact investing is inherently bipartisan. So no matter the outcome of the upcoming election in November, we believe that the role of the private sector and the impact investors in creating positive social, economic, and environmental impact will continue to be relevant. 

We have a fundamental belief at the Alliance that the magnitude of the challenges at hand require cross-sectoral partnership. So that would mean partnership between investors and businesses, government and foundations, and grantees and civil society.  We have a cohort of eight grantees. Some of them are think tanks, academic institutions, even a for-profit entity. We selected them because of their ability to conceive of and see the next generation of public policy proposals around impact investing so that we can crowd in more capital and set more private capital for public good. 

Systemic racism is more self-evident in our institutions and, indeed, throughout our society than ever, and we feel at the Alliance that we need to strongly commit to pursuing justice of all kinds — social, economic, and environmental wealth justice — alongside Black Americans. 

Denver: Cool. So, Fran, given the ongoing crises that we’re having at the moment, how would you describe this moment? And what does the road to recovery look like from your perspective? 

Fran: That’s a great question. I believe, and I desperately hope that we are at an inflection point right now, and one that requires that we really reconsider and actively reshape the power dynamics throughout our institutions, including the system of capitalism, including government.  Faith in institutions is at an all-time low, especially among young people, and our collective response to the challenges at hand I think will have implications for communities, for societies, for individuals, for families, for generations. This is a moment. 

Systemic racism is more self-evident in our institutions and indeed throughout our society than ever, and we feel at the Alliance that we need to strongly commit to pursuing justice of all kinds — social, economic, and environmental wealth justice — alongside Black Americans. 

Of course, there’s the pandemic and economic downturn that have really laid bare some of the weaknesses in our system, including the insufficient healthcare system, access to healthcare, the underfunded, chronically underfunded and disinvested state of our urban, rural and tribal communities, and small business infrastructure. So we think we need to act decisively and immediately if we want to create a more inclusive recovery. 

And then, of course, we talked about these three crises of health, economic, and systemic racism. But there’s a fourth, of course, and that’s the looming challenge and threat of climate change.  

So, we see impact investing as one tool among many to address recovery.  Impact investors provide patient capital, long-term patient capital, and pursue the impact outcomes that I’ve mentioned. Some of us have well-developed relationships with community stakeholders and feel that we can show up in communities with authenticity to support residents’ needs and priorities. We’re committed to transparency and impact measurements. 

So I wouldn’t want to position impact investing as a solution, but it is one solution, and I hope that this is a turning point where individual and institutional investors that care about impact, and policymakers, understand the critical need to account for both positive and negative impact throughout our system. So those are some thoughts. 

Denver: Absolutely. Well, let me dig in a little bit deeper on some of those things. And as we seek a more just, inclusive, and equitable recovery, and certainly more so than occurred during the last fiscal crisis in 2008, it’s always helpful to observe capital flows — and you’re a great observer — to see whether we’re on the right road or not. So, at this juncture, Fran, what would your assessment be? 

Fran: That’s a great question. 

When we think about cross-sectoral partnership, we really mean it. That said, at this moment, the magnitude of the rescue and stimulus packages from the federal government are trillions of dollars. I’m worried that the die is cast on the recovery based on how those packages are structured.  We know that there are kind of special interests and industries that have big, lobbying firms that secure bailout resources.

We’ve been particularly focused on the PPP, the Paycheck Protection Program, which is a $660 billion program that effectively provides grants to small businesses impacted by the shutdown, by recession, to help them retain staff and use the proceeds for other kinds of small business needs. 

And so, that is an area where we have observed large capital flows. But we have seen that the PPP really hasn’t reached down into main street — the main streets we grew up on, family-owned businesses, and it has especially not reached businesses in Black and Brown and tribal communities, low-income communities.

And so, one of the ways that the Alliance and a lot of us in the impact investing field have been trying to lift up these uneven capital flows is by lifting up the work that is being done by community development finance institutions, also CDFIs. These are nonprofit community lenders like community banks, loan funds, credit unions that have a very long history since the ’70s of providing access to affordable and responsible capital to some of these low-income, underserved communities, and indeed, the communities that happen to be the hardest hit by the pandemic and economic crisis due to existing systemic inequities.

 And we know that, for example, PPP and securing PPP resources by small businesses depends on their ability to work with a banking partner and to effectively get underwritten. And unfortunately, because of decades of implicit bias and racism, redlining within the country’s big financial institutions, many of them lack those relationships with commercial banks — the Black, Brown, tribal, low-income, women entrepreneurs. 

And so as a result, we have been focusing on how we can flow more capital to community development finance institutions. Denver, up to 40%, and I recently heard 50% of Black small businesses have gone out of business, and we anticipate…

What we really need right now…we really need policymakers to move alongside these private and philanthropic examples…to support CDFIs in a more fulsome way. And that is the way we’re going to, I hope, help save and encourage Black and Brown women-business owners to flourish in their own little way. 

Denver: We’ve heard that, too.

Fran: It’s shocking, and back when the number was 40%, it was compared to 14% of white-owned businesses. So, again, disproportionately affecting not just in health, but in terms of small business and economic impact. And so we feel that it’s really urgent to get more capital, more loans, more grants to CDFIs so that they can serve these groups, and some of the foundations that we work with and family offices have been doing a great job in doing that. 

So the Ford Foundation mobilized in just eight days $29 million program-related investment to the Nonprofit Finance Fund as part of a broader initiative called the New York City COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund. And this $29 million, and I think that the Nonprofit Finance Fund has raised more now, well above $30 million, is targeting working capital loans for small, local, New York-based nonprofits. 

There is a family office called Ceniarth, and they partnered with the Schmidt Family Foundation, Eric Schmidt of Google, and the Packard Foundation, and the Olamina Fund, which is run by Candide Group. They helped mobilize a $14 million zero-interest loan to the Rural Community Assistance Corporation, which is a rural CDFI, to bolster its ability to flow PPP capital to rural businesses and nonprofits. 

We’ve also seen some corporate folks getting into the act. So, in March, Google announced the launch of a $125 million Grow with Google Fund, which was funded through its corporate treasury department to support small business lending through the Opportunity Finance Network, which is a national network of CDFIs, and paired up with a $5 million grant. Netflix recently allocated 2% of its cash holdings, about $100 million dollars, to community depository institutions to provide direct support to Black communities. 

These are great. These private initiatives are great. But what we really need right now, and it gets back to my opening comment about how muscular and big these federal packages are, we really need policymakers to move alongside these private and philanthropic examples that I gave to support CDFIs in a more fulsome way. And that is the way we’re going to, I hope, help save and encourage Black and Brown women-business owners to flourish in their own way. 

Denver: A couple of things on that.  In terms of the stimulus package, you’re absolutely right. The way it was delivered was a way of reinforcing the status quo — by going through the banks and by going through the bank’s customers. To your other point, it is amazing how fast this sector can move when it has to in terms of doing things in eight days that sometimes took eight months. 

But I want to pick up on your last thing about the corporate sector because I know this is an area that you have a tremendous amount of interest in, and that has been the recent movement away from shareholder capitalism to stakeholder capitalism… at least there have been words to that effect. 

But this pandemic, among the other challenges we’ve discussed, is really the first big test that this stakeholder capitalism movement is facing. And I remember the old line by Mike Tyson, and he said that “everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” So, the question is: Will companies stick to this stakeholder model, or do you think there’s a danger they’re going to revert back to short-term thinking? What does your instinct tell you? 

Fran: I didn’t know that Mike Tyson quote, but Warren Buffet famously said about the last financial crisis that “you don’t know who is swimming nude until the water recedes, and you see that there are folks without bathing suits and swimming trunks.” 

Denver: That’s a great quote, too.

Fran: And it gets to the same point as the quote that you mentioned.

We talked earlier about positive and negative impact or what economists call “positive and negative externalities.” Companies create all kinds of positive externalities around community jobs and corporate philanthropy, but also negative externalities like pollution and many others.  The negative externalities, really the cost of those, are borne by us, the Americans taxpayers, not just in financial terms, but also in health and… 

Denver: The quality of life. 

Fran: Yes.  And there was a fantastic piece in the New York Times Magazine last weekend, I believe, or the weekend before, on environmental racism and how Black and Brown communities are proximate to sources of pollution, much more proximate, and that has given rise in this one community in Philadelphia to an extraordinary level of cancers.  So that’s just a graphic example and an unfortunate example of negative externalities.

Milton Friedman, who is a famous University of Chicago economist and a Nobel Prize winner in economics, famously wrote in 1970– actually September 13, 1970– so we’re coming up in a couple of weeks on the 50th anniversary of his statement.

Denver: My goodness! Not anything to celebrate, but continue. 

Fran: We can talk about whether we can celebrate or not. 

But his famous quote is “There’s one and only one social responsibility of business: to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits as long as it stays within the rules of the game.” And that had been adopted, and what is implied by that is the primacy of shareholder value, shareholder primacy.

And we know that Wall Street works and is slavishly focused on delivering quarterly returns versus long-term value. And that is reinforced by the entire financial system, which looks to see if Microsoft is, or Google is exceeding or falling short of their estimated earnings per share by like a penny or pennies. This “quarterly returns focus” means that long-term value creation is put on its side, and it really affects corporate decision-making. It affects corporate investments, all kinds of behavior. 

In any case, this shareholder primacy came into full effect in the ’80s and the ’90s …a “greed is good” era, and it perpetuated this system of just maximize financial return, and then we can kind of sprinkle a couple drops of philanthropy after the fact. And the truth of the matter is, in so creating all that wealth for shareholders, you’re creating negative and positive externalities that are not priced. And so that is not a functioning system for society. 

And so, there has been an increasing acknowledgment in the corporate sector and among the investor class that short-term value creation, not taking environmental, social, and governance ESG factors into account in making decisions is unwise, and it can lead to outsized risk.  And increasingly, what we see is companies that do take environmental, social, and governance factors into account sometimes outperform, but they typically keep pace with and at times outperform the non-impact financial benchmark. It dampens volatility. It can decrease the cost of capital. So there’s increasingly a financial case for doing this. 

And so what was really interesting to see is that the Business Roundtable, which is a  powerful, powerful membership group, the largest US corporations, in August of last year, I think 193 members signed on to a refreshed purpose of a corporation to pursue long-term value for stakeholders, including but not limited to shareholders. And this was seen as a rhetorical departure from the Milton Friedman school of thought, but it wasn’t enforceable.  To your earlier point, there were no teeth or commitments… it felt kind of best efforts. 

And what has been really fascinating to see in the financial crisis is a couple different things. One is whether or not companies are living up to that pledge, whether in terms of their HR policies and paid leave, commitments to employees, commitments to communities, if those are being borne out or not. There’s a fantastic nonprofit called JUST Capital.

Denver: Martin Whittaker has been on the show a couple of times. 

Fran: Yes. Exactly.  They do fantastic work, and they’re trying to create some transparency and serve almost like a watchdog for some of these commitments. 

The other thing, Denver, that has been really interesting and disheartening to see is we always see that there’s a schism between Main Street and Wall Street, but it has never been more pronounced than it is now as we see…

Denver: Cognitive dissonance is unbelievable. You watch the news and what’s happening to the people, and then you turn on CNBC, the market’s up 400 points and you’re like, “What?!”

Fran: Exactly. The Dow is back at 27,000 or more. The S&P, all of the NASDAQ, certainly. Tech companies have been doing so well. And what we know is only 50% of the American public has any exposure to the stock market. So, the benefit of this kind of a dip and the run-up from the dip when the Dow was at about 20,000 at a low, has accrued to the investor class, has accrued to institutional investors, not to average Americans. And I believe that the market is also rallying not just on potential future vaccines, but also on corporate financial engineering, stock buybacks from the windfall from the 2017 tax bill. 

Denver: There’s no question about that. The whole thing is manipulated. There’s no doubt about it. I agree. 

Fran: Absolutely. And I worry that the jobs that have been lost during this time will not come back. So, I think the market is rallying on a reality that the average American family and certainly Black and Brown and tribal communities cannot relate to. 

The Alliance over time has been thinking more and more about how to accelerate the transition to stakeholder capitalism, moving away from shareholder capitalism, and I think that really now is the time to be working on this. 

We know that diverse teams in a corporate setting make better decisions, and the more that you add diversity to the corporate board, the better the performance.

I think impact investors are looking at how they can modify not just their internal institutional practices, hiring practices, culture, but also how to deploy capital in a more equitable way.

Denver: You mentioned before systemic racism, and so much of what we’ve talked about really has that implied in the conversation…. Is the impact investing community doing anything to support the dismantling of systemic racism?

Fran: There have been a fair number of investor sign-on pledges.  And, of course, the question is, just like the Business Roundtable, after you sign the pledge, what happens? 

I will say that among the foundations that we work with and the other investors that we work with, one thing that folks are looking at and had been looking at, before the most recent social protests and social movement, is around diversity, equity, and inclusion in asset management.

Women and minority fund managers managed just 1% of AUM, assets under management, which is a shockingly low number. And so, looking at implicit bias in manager selection, looking at the diversity of investment decision-makers at funds, and we know that diverse teams in a corporate setting make better decisions, and the more that you add diversity to the corporate board, the better the performance. And so, folks are starting to look more and more at the diversity of management teams.  If you think about venture capital or private equity, we, of course, we know that women receive about 2.5% of venture capital. Black women receive about 40 basis points of venture capital. 

And so we know that more diverse decision-makers in the venture capital community, in banking, in other kinds of investment decision-making roles are more likely to invest in diverse management teams, and that implicates, touches on wealth equality. And so I think impact investors are looking at how they can modify not just their internal institutional practices, hiring practices, culture, but also how to deploy capital in a more equitable way.

Denver: Let me close with this, Fran.  It’s been observed by some that this set of crises will accelerate the fields in a pretty dramatic fashion. In other words, developments that might have taken 5 or 10 years to unfold are now going to occur in maybe one or two. Do you think that’s true for the impact investing field? And if so, where do you believe those fast forwards are going to be? 

Fran: I certainly hope so. I opened by saying that we’re in an inflection point, and I hope that we can capitalize on the inflection point. At the Alliance, increasingly, we’re thinking about an evolving theory of change that had been in development, but we’ve hastened our thinking and sharpened our thinking because of the crises that we have talked about. The pandemic, economic crisis, and long-standing systemic racism have really impacted the communities we care about and revealed and exacerbated systemic faults and inequities.

And so, we’re increasingly thinking about our emerging theory of change in a twofold way. The first is evolving impact investing in the context of community revitalization. We talked earlier about the hollowing out of American communities. Some of that has to do with big corporations’ monopolistic behavior. Some of it has to do with opioid addiction. Some of it has to do with just the crisis set around despair, even before the current crisis set hit. And so trying to understand how we as impact investors can be deploying impact capital in a way that can support community vitalization and revitalization.

The other piece, and we’ve touched on it already, is the stakeholder capitalism and how we can accelerate an economic system that authentically engages the interests of all stakeholders who participate in a business’s values. So yes, investors, but also employees, suppliers, customers, communities in the physical environment. 

And so, I hope that this is a time when we can reflect and act in different ways. I think the risk is through the stimulus packages that we talked about earlier, through big businesses protecting their flanks and continuing to engage in kind of short-term behavior and corporate financial engineering. The fear is that we go back to the same way of operating. That happened during the last financial crisis, and it took 10 years for jobs to come back. And now, we’re net negative on jobs, of course, as you know.

 And so, I think that we will need to be looking not just at the deployment of private investment, not just the deployment of grant capital, but also the essential role that public policy will play in leveling the playing field.

And I think the election will tell a tale, and we at the Alliance are certainly refreshing and preparing a refreshed public policy docket on impact investing for the next presidential term, no matter who ends up leading it.  And so just still wanting to emphasize that private investors can’t do it alone; philanthropy, certainly, with the precious little grant capital that it has, can’t do it alone; that we really need the muscle of government, and we really need the partnership between and among those sectors in order to make the change that we seek.

Denver: Can’t lose this moment.

For people who are interested in learning more about The U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, tell us about your website and some of the information you have up on it. 

Fran: Our website is And there, we have a bunch of resources including a lot of the policy work we have been doing to try to effectuate positive change through regulation and working with the administration. 

If you want to learn more about the Tipping Point Fund on Impact Investing, you can find it at, and there you can learn more about our public policy grantees and a little bit about our path forward. So that’s where you can find us. 

I tweet like a mad woman at @FranSeegull. I tweet on impact investing, ESG, community economic development, development and finance, and entrepreneurship. 

Denver: And whatever else.

Well, thanks, Fran, for being here today to share these insights. It was a real delight to have you on the show. 

Fran: Wonderful to spend some time with you today, Denver. Thank you.

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