Raising the Bar: Aligning on the Key Elements of Impact Performance Reporting

This “Raising the Bar” report is the first in a series aimed at improving the quality and usefulness of impact performance reports produced by impact investors. The research was conducted with the support of grant funding from The Rockefeller Foundation and the Tipping Point Fund on Impact Investing.

We specifically explored three overarching questions:

  • What is the current state of impact performance reporting?
  • What is the market’s current view on best practices for impact reporting?
  • What are the potential pathways to improving the quality and usability of impact reports?

To answer these questions, BlueMark first analyzed a sample of 31 recent impact reports published by private market general partners (GPs) to identify trends and common practices. BlueMark then consulted with 57 diverse industry stakeholders—via both one-on-one interviews and focus groups—to gain insights into the challenges and opportunities related to producing and consuming impact reports.

Learn more about the key findings below.

Key Elements

Our research revealed that stakeholders (both LPs and GPs) broadly agree about the information an impact report should cover. We have organized these points of consensus into overarching and specific elements for impact performance reporting.

The overarching elements (Clarity + Completeness) describe the characteristics that should apply across an impact report and the specific elements describe the types or categories of information that should be included within a quality impact report.

“It’s like we’ve settled into a negative equilibrium, where everybody agrees that the status quo is suboptimal.”

Mike McCreless
Executive Director, Impact Frontiers

The approach of our field has been to let a thousand flowers bloom around metrics and methodologies… And those thousand flowers blooming has led to market and investor confusion.”

Fran Seegull
President, U.S. Impact Investing Alliance

Future Pathways

As part of the research, we also asked stakeholders how the field might move toward better reporting and what stones need to be laid to pave the path.

Recognizing that multiple actors have a role to play, we explored potential strategies for different actors at varying stages of maturity—(1) laying the groundwork (Preparing), (2) implementing best practices (Promoting), and (3) leading the market forward (Pioneering). 

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