Taking a deeper dive
In this fourth annual Making the Mark report, the BlueMark team takes a deeper dive into those impact management practices that are most (or least) common among different segments of the impact and sustainable investing market.
With our largest sample size to date, we are able to cut and slice our data to generate tailored benchmarks and insights to help improve investor decision-making and optimize capital allocation towards impact.
“The expanded dataset in this year’s Making the Mark report reveals an increasingly diverse range of impact investors across asset classes and strategies, reflecting growing adoption of impact management standards across investor types.”
— Christina Leijonhufvud, CEO of BlueMark
Making the Mark 2023
How do you compare to your peers?
The BlueMark Practice Benchmark categorizes practice ratings by quartile, providing a mechanism for investors to compare themselves to the current state of practice in the market.
BlueMark Practice Benchmark
Check out this year’s Practice Benchmark and see how your firm stacks up against the rest of the impact investing industry.
(25th percentile and below)
(75th percentile and above)
Leaderboard of investors
The BlueMark Practice Leaderboard was created as a way to highlight those impact investors with best-in-class impact management practices. To earn a spot on the Leaderboard, verified investors must receive top quartile ratings across each of the Impact Principles in the Benchmark for that year.
Only impact investors that have been verified within the previous two years will be eligible for each year’s Leaderboard to ensure that investors are continuously reassessed against the current state of the market.
- Sustainable Agriculture
Verification statement (TBA)
Bain Capital Double Impact
- Health & Wellness
- Education & Workforce Development
Blue Earth Capital
British International Investment
- Productive, Sustainable and Inclusive
Calvert Impact Capital
- Access to Community Service
- Financial Inclusion
- Climate Change
Finance in Motion
- Green Economy
- Climate Finance
- Entrepreneurship & Livelihoods
- Financial Inclusion
- Financial Inclusion
- Climate Solutions
Nuveen (Private Equity Impact)
- Resource Efficiency
- Inclusive Growth
Nuveen (Fixed Income Impact)
- Affordable Housing
- Community & Economic Development
- Renewable Energy & Climate Change
- Natural Resources
- Multi-theme (SDG-aligned impact)
The size of our sample
This year’s “Making the Mark” report is based on 84 verifications for 75 impact investors managing a combined $209.4 billion in impact-oriented assets under management.
Investor Type (N=84)
How investors identify themselves
- Asset Managers (Diversified)
- Asset Managers (Impact-only)
- Development Finance Institutions (DFI)
- Other (e.g., Family Office, Foundation, Wealth Manager)
Asset Class (N=166)
Which asset classes investors are prioritizing
- Private Equity (Growth)
- Private Debt
- Private Equity (Venture Capital)
- Private Equity (Buyout)
- Real Assets
- Public Debt
- Public Equity
Where investors are deploying their capital
Learn more about best practices through these case studies on innovations in impact management featuring impact investors recently verified by BlueMark.
Driving impact in real assets
Schroders Asset Management
Investing for impact in public equities
Linking impact management to quality impact reporting
FullCycle Climate Partners
Managing for climate mitigation impacts
See which impact management practices are most common among investors, and which practices still present a challenge for the field.
The adoption of staff-incentive systems linked to impact remains limited, with only 31% of BlueMark-verified impact management systems explicitly integrating impact considerations into staff incentives. The most common approach at 25% is through annual staff performance reviews related to impact, including a subset of 15% that make the link explicit through variable pay and bonus structures, however, only 7% of the market has linked their impact performance to carried interest.
55% of investors include an analysis of impact risk in due diligence, however investors tend to focus their assessments on the likelihood of impact occurring (“execution risk”) rather than assessing potential negative impacts (“unexpected impact risk”). In fact, only 24% of investors include a standardized assessment of negative impacts as part of their process, which suggests the market has more work to do when accounting for potential negative externalities in due diligence.
Less than a third of investors (32%) are engaging with target stakeholders and actively soliciting their input to validate outcomes alongside investee data. While still a minority practice, a slight increase compared to last year’s research sample shows that soliciting input from end-stakeholders experiencing the impact outcomes will become a key part of effective impact management and monitoring.
27% of investors are taking consistent actions to ensure sustainable impact creation, while just more than half of investors (60%) have a policy or approach in place to consider the sustainability of impact at and beyond exit. This suggests there is a long way to go before impact considerations take equal precedence to financial considerations and investors proactively identify actions to preserve impact as part of exit strategies. Given exit practices range broadly across asset class contexts, additional norms and consensus best practice across investment strategies will be required for this market practice to continue to improve.
Making the Mark 2023 report
See more data and insights about impact investing best practices, trends, and challenges in the full report.
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To help spotlight differences between different segments of the market, we’ve created several custom data snapshots to allow users to interact directly with the data. The snapshots show what percentage of investors are executing a specific impact practice, based on the sample size of investors verified by BlueMark to date.
- Are asset allocators more likely than asset managers to align staff incentive systems with impact performance?
- Are managers of social-focused strategies more likely to solicit input from stakeholders than climate-focused strategies?
- Are private markets strategies more likely to have an approach to sustaining impact at exit than public markets strategies?
- Investor Type
- Asset Class
- Impact Theme
- > +10%
- < -10%
Variation from Median based on +/- 10%
|Investment stage||IMPACT PRACTICE||Median |
|Private Equity |
|Private Debt |
|Real Assets |
|Climate / Environmental |
|Multi theme / Theme Agnostic |
|Strategic Intent||Create a fund-level theory of change with supporting evidence||60%||58%||52%||67%||57%||65%||71%||61%||55%||62%|
|Align staff incentive systems with impact performance||31%||34%||15%||58%||31%||39%||14%||31%||32%||23%|
|Impact Due Diligence||Use a composite impact scoring or rating tool to assess impact across the portfolio||29%||34%||19%||42%||29%||29%||43%||31%||30%||39%|
|Assess all fundamental components of potential impact for each investment||49%||47%||52%||33%||43%||52%||43%||50%||43%||69%|
|Impact Monitoring and Measurement||Actively manage and engage on ESG risks with investees||52%||45%||56%||75%||51%||71%||50%||56%||61%||69%|
|Consistently monitor impact data against expectations or a target||60%||61%||63%||50%||58%||68%||64%||69%||61%||39%|
|Track and monitor results of investor contribution activities||23%||21%||19%||33%||20%||23%||29%||22%||20%||31%|
|Solicit data from end-stakeholders to validate outcomes||32%||34%||33%||25%||29%||26%||29%||31%||27%||46%|
|Impact at Exit||Have an approach to sustaining impact at exit||60%||66%||52%||50%||52%||55%||64%||58%||50%||62%|
|Use impact review findings to improve processes||39%||37%||41%||42%||39%||39%||50%||47%||36%||54%|
|Investment stage||Strategic Intent||Impact Due Diligence||Impact Monitoring and Measurement||Impact at Exit|
|IMPACT PRACTICE||Create a fund-level theory of change with supporting evidence||Align staff incentive systems with impact performance||Use a composite impact scoring or rating tool to assess impact across the portfolio||Assess all fundamental components of potential impact for each investment||Actively manage and engage on ESG risks with investees||Consistently monitor impact data against expectations or a target||Track and monitor results of investor contribution activities||Solicit data from end-stakeholders to validate outcomes||Have an approach to sustaining impact at exit||Use impact review findings to improve processes|
| Impact-Only |
| Conventional |
| DFIs |
| Private Equity |
| Private Debt |
| Real Assets |
| Social |
| Climate / Environmental |
| Multi theme / Theme Agnostic |