Working Papers

IFFExpanding the Geographic Reach of Community Investment: The IFF Case Study (pdf) (November 2013)
An in depth CDFI case study, building on research around the Capital Absorption Capacity of Places, this work looks at the process of geographic expansion for IFF. Capital absorption is described as “the ability of communities to effectively use [private] investment capital to serve pressing needs” – with a focus on understanding community investment as an ecosystem, with many different kinds of actors – public, private, and nonprofit– doing many different kinds of things. This piece provides a way to describe all those things that, along with investors and projects, were necessary to invest for social benefit in marginalized communities.

The Capital Absorption Capacity of Places – A Self Assessment Tool (pdf) (February 2013)
Combining the introduction to our Capital Absorption framework with an assessment worksheet allows interested stakeholders to carry out their own capital absorption assessment and figure out how their city or metropolitan region performs on each of the functions we’ve laid out.

An Exploration of Sustainability and its Application to Corporate Reporting (pdf) (November 2012)
The past thirty years have seen a noted influx in sustainability focused initiatives from both advocacy and research oriented organizations. This report seeks to cast a wide net in exploring t

Putting Dollars to Work in the Community: 9 Things Local Government Can Do to Harness Privatehe broad concept of sustainability as a means to emphasize the exploration of ideas from both ecology and ecosystems. The goal of this report is to serve those working to improve corporate sustainability reporting by exploring how academics and practitioners are developing sustainability concepts and tools in other fields, it hopes to inspire and seed new ideas and possible approaches to this substantial challenge.

Capital for Public Good (pdf) (August 2012)
Leadership from the public sector can make an enormous difference in creating the conditions that attract private capital and ensure it is utilized effectively to build sustainable and equitable communities. This paper outlines some key steps for public sector officials to consider and provides examples of places that have implemented these steps.

Building Ties between Community Investment and Disaster Relief and Recovery: Reflections Drawn from the Model of the Isaiah Fund (pdf)
May 2012
Using the example of the Isaiah Fund, this working paper asks when and how the practice of community investing (CI)— with its focus on long-term community engagement and support, investment discipline, and economic development — can be usefully tied to the imperatives of disaster relief and recovery. The development of a disaster recovery CI practice reveals something about how investors can target specific social impacts while considering the full ecosystem of public, private, and civil society actors that constitute CI investment markets.

The Capital Absorption Capacity of Places (pdf)
March 2012
Working with Living Cities, the goal of this research is to build a new framework for understanding capital absorption capacity – understood as the ability of communities to effectively use investment capital to serve pressing needs.This working paper is a first effort to describe the community investment ecosystem as a way to better evaluate and understand how community investment capital is absorbed and deployed in specific metropolitan regions. With further work, we hope to create a more formal assessment tool for this purpose, as well as to understand the types of philanthropic, policy or other interventions that could expand capital absorption capacity in a given place.

Rural Mission Investing: The Role of Foundations in Catalyzing Social Investment Markets that Benefit Rural Communities (pdf)
October 2011
Rural mission-related investments offer foundations an opportunity to utilize the totality of their resources to promote their mission, whilst serving underserved communities and supporting market development that leverages other forms of capital to a more socially beneficial purpose. Through the concentrated efforts and continued advocacy for public policy support and the continued aggregation of information regarding opportunity and performance, investment in rural communities and the responsible investment field as a whole stands to continue to grow in the upcoming years with foundations leading the charge.

Investment Beliefs Statements (pdf)
October 2011
Underlying investment policy statements are implicit beliefs about the role of the market, rationales for proper manager selection and asset allocation, and other strategic decisions that may not be aligned with the focus or goals of investors. Investment Beliefs Statements, intended to help trustees, fiduciaries, and others responsible for making investment decisions clarify their views on important investment topics, are a tool for ensuring that investment practice mirrors beliefs.

Public Pension Fund Trustees and Fund Culture: Responsible Investment and the Trustee Leadership Forum (pdf)
September 2011
In the context of responsible investment, the role of the pension fund trustee within fund culture is a particularly intriguing area of inquiry. Presented at the 2011 UNPRI Academic Network Conference in Stockholm, this paper by David Wood and Jay Youngdahl explores the preliminary insights from the beginning of the Trustee Leadership Forum project. Framed in the context of leadership and organizational studies, the paper focuses on the role of pension fund trustees in designing, implementing, and overseeing the development of responsible investment strategies at their funds.

A Brief Note on the Global Green Bond Market (pdf)
February 2011
The result of a series of interviews with green bond issuers and investors, this note aims to create a short overview of investor interest in the global green bond market. This note reflects a general sense of how investors and issuers see the market today and highlights a few key topics for discussion that are central to future market growth.

Sustainable SME Investment – Investing in the Backbone of Emerging Markets (pdf)
December 2006
In emerging markets, there is often a dearth of financing options for SMEs, creating a ‘missing middle’ in the economic structure. These entrepreneurs, so vital for sustianable development, are too large to qualify for microfinance, but too small to obtain loans from international institutions. Investors are looking at this issue and seeking a coherent investment framework that would ensure the sustainability of these enterprises, and the maturation of investment in emerging market SMEs.