by Paige Chapel, President & CEO

I am pleased to share version 1.0 of the new impact metric set for CDFIs and other community investments. Click here to download the guidance paper, which introduces the project and describes the process that went into developing this metric set. The paper also contains the alignment between the metric set and the Global Impact Investing Network’s (GIIN) IRIS catalog. An interactive version of the metric set is available on the IRIS website.

Click here to access the guidance paper.

This project grew in part out of a round table discussion on social impact measurement convened by Partners for the Common Good (PCG), Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), and Aeris at the 2014 OFN Conference. The CDFIs present at that meeting expressed a clear desire to track a set of standardized metrics that would allow them to better understand their impact performance relative to peer institutions.

In June 2015, Aeris announced at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America meeting its intention to lead the compilation of a core set of metrics that are commonly reported by CDFIs and applicable to a range of community investments. This responded to

  • CDFIs’ interest in gaining access to peer data, and
  • built on Aeris’ ongoing work to reduce the number of barriers between impact investors and CDFIs.

The metric set organizes CDFI impacts into verticals (impact focus areas such as economic security or education) and horizontals (people and places that are the target beneficiaries, such as people of color or rural communities), giving CDFIs a number of ways to communicate about and present their impact data to impact investors. As most of the metric definitions also conform to OFN and the CDFI Fund’s definitions, their use should not add to the administrative burden of CDFIs that employ them.

Since announcing the project in summer 2015, Aeris has worked closely with CDFIs, community investors, OFN, the CDFI Fund, other large data aggregators, and IRIS/the GIIN. We are grateful to have had the financial backing of the Ford Foundation, JPMorgan Chase Global Philanthropy, Annie E. Casey Foundation, MetLife Foundation, and the Global Impact Investing Network for this effort.

We believe the new impact metric set represents important groundwork in the longer-term effort to transform the way community investment impacts are quantified. It is our hope that the data standardization made possible by this new metric set will enable better aggregation and comparison of CDFI impact, as investors and CDFI adopt the new definitions. We look forward to the next phase of this project, which will involve collecting these standardized impact data in the Aeris Cloud to enable aggregation and analysis.