Impact Investing | December 12, 2023

Tideline’s Ten Years of Impact

Ben Thornley

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Guest Author

Ben Thornley

As Tideline enters its second decade, the firm is committing to an intentional shift from “navigating” impact to “centering” impact. We are challenging ourselves and other market actors to consider how we treat each other as human beings and make decisions, and why our behavior can be just as impactful as any investment decision or fund launch. 

Tideline was founded in 2014 as a specialist consultant for the impact investing industry. As Tideline celebrates its first decade, the firm’s leaders have taken this opportunity to reflect on and extend their original mission of enabling investors to integrate and deliver impact with confidence.

Read more about “centering” impact in Tideline’s new milestone report, Ten Years of Impact, which provides a look into the “Community Agreement” recently implemented by the firm. This excerpt is Tideline’s “Message to the Field.”

Impact investing beginners: The time is now.

Don’t let your desire for perfection stop you from getting started. Given the nature of financial institutions, we find the desire for perfection can often get in the way of meaningful growth.

Although the market has made significant progress over the past decade in respect to measurement, standardization, and transparency, the “impact” in impact investing is and will not be as clear cut as measuring and reporting financial performance. 

We admire clients that seek to holistically measure the impact of an investment, but investors should recognize that calculating the social and environmental impacts of an investment is not as concrete or precise as reporting a financial return on investment. In an over-engineered impact management system, one can lose the flexibility needed to make adjustments based off learnings and there is the added risk of losing sight of the end-beneficiaries being served. 

The time to start investing for impact is now. The cost of inaction is significant and the journey toward a goal is marked by learning, adaption, and progress. 

Intermediate impact investors: Reflect on progress and share learnings.

In the impact investing industry, transparency and the sharing of learnings paves the way for collective progress and catalyzes field growth. Impact investing’s potential to drive positive change hinges on a shared understanding of best practices and conversations around challenges, successes, and lessons learned. 

Collaboration not only encourages the deployment of responsible capital but also empowers a broader range of stakeholders to embark on their own impact journeys, collectively contributing to a more sustainable and equitable future. Share case studies, have your impact management practices or data verified by an expert third-party, and be open about sharing your progress and lessons learned with the market.

Advanced impact investors: Continue to pave the way through experimentation and innovation.

In the ever-evolving landscape of impact, it is imperative that advanced practitioners remain steadfast in their commitment to pushing the boundaries of impact investing. 

By seeking innovation, you not only solidify your mastery of impact investing but also catalyze field growth, identifying new pathways to reach the underserved and protect the planet. Continue to push the boundaries to change the way capital is invested. Explore ways to enhance your impact management approaches.

Tideline is particularly eager to help investors elevate impact transparency, stakeholder engagement, impact data management, and defined approaches to investor contribution.