5 things to know about our impact investors

Biannually we ask our investors for their thoughts on our customer service and how how we’re doing on our mission overall. This year we expanded the scope of the survey to also capture more general information about our investors’ personal finances and investments. More than 530 people participated, and their responses yielded findings that are instructive to us and the broader impact investing field.

We blended the survey responses with sales data on our Community Investment Note® (Note) to form a more complete picture of our investors, summarized in the below infographic.

(Note: infographic data points only reflect responses from existing investors, not former investors).

cf-impact-investor-infographic-web id 1065849

Here are some of the highlights:

Most investors care about multiple causes. Calvert Foundation’s diverse lending portfolio touches a variety of causes, but we try to keep tabs on which causes are most relevant to our investors. When asked what causes are important, 75% of people included the environment, 71% included microfinance and 67% included community development. 72% of all respondents selected three or more causes. However, 80% of currently held Notes are not targeted to a particular cause, suggesting that when it comes time to invest, people want their dollars to be used where needed most in Calvert Foundation's diverse portfolio.

People use numerous investments to meet their impact investment goals. 60% of people said they hold other caused-based investments alongside our Notes. They listed 68 other investment products they use to meet their investment goals, ranging from SRI mutual funds to local cooperatives to solar energy providers. It reminds us of our investors’ diverse return expectations, risk tolerances, interests and investment goals.

Millennials are in the minority. Many are predicting that millennials will embrace impact investing. As global citizens and conscious consumers, they're a perfect fit. But if our online investor demographics are any indication, millennials aren't yet adopting impact investing en masse: the median investor age is 44. Getting millennials to adopt impact investing is the topic of a whole other discussion. We continue to experiment with campaign strategies and partnerships to get out into the mainstream with the impact investing opportunity.

Most investors aren’t millionaires. When we launched the Community Investment Note offering in 1995, we set out to make impact investing available to anyone, regardless of their income level or investment acumen. 64% of survey respondents reported $100k or less in household income, and 25% reported $50k or less, suggesting that our investors come a range of different wealth levels.

Investors tend to invest for the long haul. Notes are held on average for 10 years, and 92% of dollars that matured from direct (our most reliable sales channel for reinvestment data) investors in 2015 were reinvested. These stats suggest that people tend to hold their investments with us for a long time, which is critical to creating long-term impact in the communities where our portfolio companies work. We began offering a 15-year, 4.0% interest option in May 2016 with the goal of attracting more long term capital.

Whenever we conduct an investor survey or I talk to an investor on the phone, what comes through is the genuine desire people have to put their money to work for good. It's the reason we exist as an organization, and we hope you'll continue to invest through us. A big thank you to all the investors who shared their thoughts with us.

What are your opinions about this? I invite you to share them in the comments below.