According to a study carried out by the Monitor Institute in 2009 (Freireich & Fulton, 2009), impact investing has been proposed as a new industry characterized by various and uncoordinated experiences but with a huge potential in terms of role and expansion within the next decade, with an expected market size of $500 billion. The study announces a great opportunity: "They actively seek to place capital in businesses and funds that can provide solutions at a scale that purely philanthropic interventions usually cannot reach". On the other hand, Monitor identifies two types of risks that will need to be confronted explicitly to seize the promise inherent in the current transition for impact investing:
The risk that investing for impact will ultimately be too hard. Here, hype, poor thinking, and sloppy execution would cause so much disappointment that relatively little capital would wind up in this new style of investing. The will to overcome the typical challenges facing a messy, new industry could disappear as investors simply give up too soon, especially in the face of strong macroeconomic head winds.
The risk that investing for impact will ultimately be too easy. Here, the definition of social and environmental impact could turn out to be so loose and diluted as to be virtually meaningless. At best, this outcome would turn this type of investing into a "feel good" rather than a "do good" exercise. At worst, it could actually divert capital away from philanthropy decreasing the resources dedicated to confronting serious societal challenges.
103Successfully confronting these risks will require leaders and investors to insist on precision—on sustained rigor and reflection—in the midst of genuine excitement and good intentions.