Exploring Catholic Impact Investing Definitions
“Impact investments are investments made with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.” – The Global Impact Investing Network
As a group, CIIC embraces the challenge and guiding light that was issued by Pope Francis in Laudoto Si'. In this document the Pope called on the global Catholic community to more fully live out a commitment to Catholic Social Teachings in a world that is facing tremendous challenges in the form of global warming, extreme poverty, greed, income inequality and the list unfortunately goes on. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed when facing such intimidating problems. CIIC sees Impact Investing as a response to the Pope's call for action. In the context of our group we know and recognize that Impact Investment has grown to mean different things to different individuals and institutions, and we embrace the commonality that brings us all together in our faith to try and improve the world.
With that understanding front and center, we would like to address a fundamental question for our group and our mission; what does Impact Investing look like in a Catholic Context? While the above definition from the Global Impact Investing Network serves as a good umbrella for understanding Impact Investment, the distinct values and heritage of the Catholic community has had a strong influence on how CIIC participants think about and approach their investment portfolios.
The below answers were collected from a 2016 CIIC gathering and were chosen to demonstrate the different perspectives with which individuals approach this conversation, as well as the broader common ground that underpins CIIC participant’s passion for impact.If you would like to share your own response to this question, please e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we may feature you in a later update to this conversation.
“Impact Investing is like the seed that fell onto good ground, and brought forth fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. This fruit is the richest on earth, the most colorful and the most flavorful. This fruit gives nourishment to the hungry; provides light to those who sit in the dark; and turns barren lands into green landscapes teaming with new life. This fruit brings harmony and offers life-giving sustenance to all of creation.”
-Chief Financial Officer for Women Religious Congregation
“Jesus spent time with sinners and the poor because that's where he could make the most impact. A simple ethos such as “God Honoring” can serve as a guiding principle without the mire of interpretation. Catholic Impact Investing should go to where the problems are, should be open to the second order effects of investment rather than surface level reconciliation, and should not be afraid to consider non-conventional opportunities.”
“That the spirit of compassion, intention, and honest rigorous reflection of Laudato Si' comes to life in the way Catholic investors relate to and manage their portfolios.”
-Impact Investment Consultant
“Catholic Impact Investing is a desire to model God's economy, intentionally pursuing benefit for all affected by a transaction. It is both a personal and ecological act, valuing the poor and marginalized actors within an economy, not meant as charity but because of our interconnectedness as brothers and sisters made by God. It seeks sustainability over growth, service over power, and shared value over extraction.”
-Director of Impact Investment at Catholic Organization
“An investment which provides meaningful social change to the community which receives it and provides dignity to those working towards its success. An investment which factors these deliverables into its return structure.”
-Chairman of Catholic Family Office
“-Seeks to serve the common good of society and the environment with high standards of performance, discipline, and compassion.
-Seeks to harness the time, treasure, and talent of business, financial, scientific, and other professional experts to achieve long-lasting solutions to poverty, pollution, and social inequality and to empower the poor as entrepreneurs, innovators, produces and consumers.
-Investments guided by the Holy Spirit to generate positive social and environmental benefits, especially for the poor, alongside financial returns sufficient for sustainability.”
-Board Member of Catholic Institution
“Lord, give bread to those who have hunger and to those who have bread, give a hunger for social justice.”
-Father Theodore Hesburgh, University of Notre Dame