Lessons From The Field

CIIC connects you with our experiences in the hopes that they will be helpful to you and serve as a guiding light to Impact. The stories below were  collected from various conversations among CIIC participants and were either specific comments made by one person or the synopsis of a larger conversation. We hope these stories can also serve as conversation starters within investment and leaderships committees when exploring the subject of Impact Investing. Feel free to reach out to a Steering Committee participant to get more background and context on any of these subjects. If you would like to read the stories of specific Catholic Institutions we encourage you to explore the Stories of Catholic Impact page.

 

ON GETTING AN IMPACT INVESTING STRATEGY STARTED

"Sometimes people can get caught up in abstract conversations of how to start Impact Investing and defining exactly what Impact Investment is. We had one investment committee where one member worked in non-profit and another member worked in venture capital and they wanted to devote 100% and 2% to impact investment respectively. They got so caught up in this conversation that they couldn’t move past it to do anything, missing completely that everyone agreed that they should devote 2% to the space. Eventually we got them to make this allocation and now that everyone is comfortable with the concept. Now they are up to a 5% allocation and are energized and excited about their Impact Investment portfolio!"

-Provincial of Men Religious Congregation and Impact Investment Consultant 

 

ON ENGAGING INVESTMENT COMMITTEES:

"There often needs to be an education process, where the investment committee is deliberately indoctrinated to the idea that their job is not only to focus on financials but also to reflect the mission of the organization. Some committee members may not even know the mission and values of the organization! Secondly, there has to be a clear voice from leadership that impact investment is an important conversation for the investment committee to engage in."

- Past President of Women Religious Congregation

 

ON THE USCCB SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT GUIDELINES:

"The United State Conference of Catholic Bishops ("USCCB, "Conference") is called to exercise faithful, competent, and socially responsible stewardship in how it manages its financial resources. As a Catholic organization, the Conferences draws the values, directions, and criteria which guide its financial choices from the Gospel, universal church teaching, and Conference statements."    -Copied from USCCB SRI Guidelines  

"Catholic institutional investors have a reasonably strong handle on the negative screens recommended by the USCCB SRI Guidelines, however often there seems to be a glossing over of the challenge to encourage the positive as well. In the USCCB SRI Guidelines there is not only some relatively clear guidelines around screening out companies involved in abortificants and weapons, but also some much more open-ended encouragement to consider a company’s track-record on environmental, labor, and human rights issues. Creating positive screens to bias towards those companies that not only avoid those areas that are morally objectionable, but also have a strong history in being responsible and values-driven corporate citizens, is another way in which Catholic institutional investors can further their mission and values."

-Catholic Investment Fund Manager

 

ON CATHOLIC INSTITUTIONS INCLINATION TOWARDS IMPACT INVESTMENT:

"Catholic institutions have been have been actively working to have their missions represent their values for decades. With a strong history in negative screening and low/no interest loans to institutions to support community development, impact investment is the next logical step in that process and few institutions are as well equipped to take that step as those in the Catholic Space."

-Impact Investment Analyst

 

ON FOSSIL FUEL DIVESTMENT:

"I think that people sometimes get so caught up in whether to divest of fossil fuel companies or stay engaged with shareholder advocacy that they miss out on the fact that we all need to be doing more and that there is a lot of work to be done. Whatever energy we spend bickering internally about what is the “right” method is energy we do not spend fighting for the betterment of the community."

- President and Chief Investment Officer of Women Religious Congregation

 

ON IMPACT INVESTing AS A MEANS OF DIVERSIFICATION:

"Oftentimes, the money that we see going towards Impact Investment in the form of private capital is being deployed from cash holdings that have been sitting idle for a long time-period. In this case, there is the potential to get benefits from diversification into private capital and the deployment of low-interest earning cash."

-Chief Financial Officer of Women Religious Congregation

 

ON IMPACT INVESTing AS AN EXTENSION OF MISSION:

"Previously when those in the religious order were receiving income from salaries or direct work, it was easy to see whether the activity generating that income was aligned with the organization’s values. Now that income is largely being generated by investments the conversation becomes significantly more complex. One way to think about it though is that an organization’s investments are doing significantly more of its ministry. If 5% is being deployed to support ministry and the remaining 95% is not invested with the values of the order in mind, that is somewhat equivalent to 1 sister doing ministry work while 19 others wait their turn. I see Impact Investing as a way to get those other 19 other sisters to work furthering our mission as a Catholic Institution." 

- President and Chief Investment Officer of Women Religious Congregation