The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN): An Interview with CEO Luther Ragin, Jr.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Recently, I interviewed Luther Ragin, Jr., CEO of the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN)-the leading non-profit organization dedicated to the development of a successful impact investing industry. Impact investments aim to address social or environmental challenges while generating financial returns. Prior to joining the GIIN in September as the organization’s first chief executive, Mr. Ragin served as the Vice President of Investments at the F. B. Heron Foundation in New York, where he has been an impact investing pioneer, building a world-class institutional investment portfolio that demonstrates the ability to achieve consistently strong financial performance with substantial social impact through investments. Mr. Ragin has also been a singularly effective advocate of impact investing among investment peers and a wider audience, including through his appointment as a William H. Bloomberg lecturer at Harvard University and as a senior research fellow at the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations.
Rahim Kanani: How did the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) come about?
Luther Ragin: The GIIN was formed out of demand from a diverse group of leading impact investors. In 2009, the Monitor Institute published a study which identified key needs for the impact investing industry to realize its full potential to address social and environmental challenges at scale. Many of the identified needs were public goods, the creation of which would be well beyond the scope of any one investor’s capacity or mandate. Addressing the needs of the industry required an independent nonprofit organization to lead, coordinate, and implement projects such as the development of social and environmental performance reporting standards. The GIIN was formally launched at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative with J.P. Morgan, the Rockefeller Foundation, and USAID, our founding funders. From the start, the GIIN has been focused on increasing the scale and effectiveness of the impact investing industry.
Rahim Kanani: What has been the evolution of GIIN since it began?
Luther Ragin: The GIIN began with two main initiatives – the Investors’ Council, a membership organization to enable collaboration among active, large-scale impact investors; and the Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS), a common language for measuring and reporting the social, environmental, and financial performance of impact investments. The Investors’ Council has grown from 22 to 41 members in the past two years. Earlier this year, we released the first IRIS report, which presented initial findings based on aggregated performance data from more than 2,300 mission-driven organizations.
Soon after our launch, we formalized an outreach initiative because there was an obvious need to increase awareness about impact investing. Through this work, we are dedicated to elevating the profile of impact investing by providing actionable information to potential impact investors. In the past two years, we have spoken about impact investing at more than 70 events, and have begun developing research and market intelligence that is bringing greater transparency to the field.