Power Shifting as a Form of Impact: Increasing the Transformative Potential of Impact Investing

Brief

Power Shifting as a Form of Impact: Increasing the Transformative Potential of Impact Investing

June 30, 2021

Abstract

We are witnessing a shift in attitudes about power. A surge of critiques about wealth inequality, accelerated by the disparities highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic, has forced industries to reckon with their role in upholding harmful power structures. Decades of advocacy in philanthropy to shift power from grantmakers toward the communities they serve has started to take hold through practices including general operating support, multiyear grants, and participatory processes. The same dynamics pushing philanthropy to shift power are pushing and will increasingly push impact investing. This brief argues that it should become the norm for impact investors to consider power shifting a critical form of impact. It discusses three ways impact investors can become more intentional about power shifting and closes with a discussion about implications for federal public policy. Making power shifting a central feature of impact investing should be a key goal of the sector. By shifting power, impact investors can work to overcome the critique that impact investing perpetuates the status quo and allow it to become an instrument of transformative social change.

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