IMPACT VERIFICATION

Impact verification is the assessment of an investor’s impact management practices or impact performance against specific industry standards, such as the Operating Principles for Impact Management (OPIM) or the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

IMPACT VERIFICATION

Impact verification is the assessment of an investor’s impact management practices or impact performance against specific industry standards, such as the Operating Principles for Impact Management (OPIM) or the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

Why is impact verification important?

Just as independent assurance and third-party ratings play a foundational role in traditional financial markets, impact verification is essential for strengthening trust and accountability in the impact investing market.

Independent impact verification offers a third-party perspective on whether investors’ impact practices and performance are credible. By helping impact investors align with industry standards and increase confidence that impact claims will result in actual impact outcomes, impact verification represents the best tool in the fight against impact-washing.

How does impact verification work?

Verification involves an in-depth evaluation of an investor’s or company’s impact management practices and/or impact performance to determine whether they are in alignment with industry best practices, based on leading industry standards. Impact verification relies on a thorough review of relevant documentation and data as well as interviews and spot-checks to form a holistic picture of how investors and companies approach the impact in impact investing.

There are several standard-setting organizations currently working on instituting or refining impact verification requirements, including:

While each standard-setter uses slightly different requirements, there is a growing consensus on the need for accountability, third-party verification and independent assurance to ensure that impact investors are truly aligned with best practices.

What does BlueMark do?

BlueMark, a Tideline company, provides independent impact verification services for investors and companies. We currently offer three types of services, each of which enables greater transparency and confidence regarding an investor’s practices and performance. These verification services include:

MANDATE

We assess whether an investor has a robust impact thesis that is aligned with industry standards.

PRACTICE

We assess the degree to which an investor’s impact management (IM) practices are aligned with market standards.

REPORTING

We assess whether an investor’s impact reporting is consistent with industry best practices.

We view every verification assignment as an opportunity to partner with our clients in their efforts to continually learn and improve on their impact processes and performance. BlueMark goes beyond a ‘check-the-box’ exercise by providing in-depth assessments and benchmarks that advance our clients’ understanding and achievement of best practices. We empower our clients by providing them with the tools, resources, and third-party expert opinions necessary to succeed.

To see how impact verification works in practice, please see case studies of our recent work with Calvert Impact CapitalKKR and Leapfrog Investments.

A more detailed list of clients along with sample verification statements is available on our Clients page.

Where can we go to learn more about impact verification?

Impact verification is a new but growing area of focus within the impact investing industry. See below for a snapshot of recent webinars, news articles and opinion pieces about impact verification. Additional reference materials are available on the BlueMark resources page.

An FAQ with key terms and definitions related to impact verification is also available on the BlueMark site. 

Strengthening Trust in Impact Investing

Strengthening Trust in Impact Investing

Watch a recording of the BlueMark launch event featuring a panel discussion with Christina Leijonhufvud (CEO of BlueMark), Nick O’Donohoe (CEO of the CDC Group), Maria Kozloski (Senior Vice President of Innovative Finance at The Rockefeller Foundation), Dr. Andrew Kuper (Founder and CEO of LeapFrog Investments), and Roy Swan (Director of Mission Investments at the Ford Foundation).

Impact verification holds the key to unlocking institutional capital for impact investing

Impact verification holds the key to unlocking institutional capital for impact investing

Read Christina Leijonhufvud’s piece for Top1000Funds.com on why impact verification holds the key to unlocking more institutional capital for impact investing. “As the urgency of the world’s social and environmental challenges becomes more stark by the day, institutional investors are increasingly turning to impact verification to efficiently sort and compare impact products and to have confidence that impact claims will translate to impact outcomes.”

Impact investment gains from improving measures of success and failure

Impact investment gains from improving measures of success and failure

Read an article in the Financial Times about how the impact investing industry has improved at measuring success and failure thanks to the introduction of standards like IRIS+ and the Operating Principles for Impact Management. According to BlueMark CEO Christina Leijonhufvud, independent verification and assurance is “exactly what the market needs to unlock more capital at scale.”

Behind the launch of Tideline’s impact verification business

Behind the launch of Tideline’s impact verification business

Read an article in Responsible Investor about the launch of BlueMark, which received seed funding from The Rockefeller Foundation and Radicle Impact. BlueMark’s clients already include, among others: BlueOrchard Finance, Calvert Impact Capital, CDC Group, Closed Loop Partners, Community Investment Management, EBRD, KKR, LeapFrog Investments, LGT Venture Philanthropy, Nuveen, PG Impact Investments, PG LIFE, the Osiris Group, and UBS.

As Impact-Washing Concerns Grow, Managers Turn to Third-Party Verifiers

As Impact-Washing Concerns Grow, Managers Turn to Third-Party Verifiers

Read an article in FundFire featuring BlueMark’s Christina Leijonhufvud about how more asset managers are relying on third-party verification to help differentiate themselves as best-in-class impact investors. According to Leijonhufvud, “the market has really scaled and mainstreamed to a point where now ‘impact washing’ has become the word of the day. The concerns around whether or not various new players are approaching impact with integrity abound.”

Impact Investing’s Next Chapter: Integrity Through Assurance

Impact Investing’s Next Chapter: Integrity Through Assurance

Watch a virtual event on “Impact Investing’s Next Chapter: Integrity Through Assurance” featuring Christina Leijonhufvud (BlueMark), Anthony Berkley (Prudential Financial), Diane Damskey (Operating Principles for Impact Management), Saumya Mehrotra (UNPRI), and Caitlin Rosser (Calvert Impact Capital), with opening remarks from Mike Muldoon (The Rockefeller Foundation).

The evolution of impact investing and the introduction of impact verification

The evolution of impact investing and the introduction of impact verification

Read Christina Leijonhufvud’s piece for ImpactAlpha on the evolution of the impact investing industry from impact measurement to impact management to impact verification. “We need more than “impact” labels and philanthropic initiatives. We need a mechanism to give the market confidence that intentions are backed up by practices, outcomes are backed up by evidence, and impact labels actually mean something.”

Meet the team behind BlueMark, including CEO Christina Leijonhufvud.

Contact us directly at info@BlueMarkTideline.com to discuss your impact verification needs and goals.